Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for broccoli and zhoug spaghetti

I could write a (short) cookbook on how to incorporate a whole head of broccoli into a meal. It’s the one vegetable that is a failsafe start to any dinner in my house, because it’s guaranteed to be in the fridge and eaten by all the family. In this recipe, the broccoli and spaghetti provide a soft backdrop to zhoug, an addictive and eye-openingly brilliant paste that’s popular across the Middle East. I’ve used fresh coriander, cumin, cardamom, but I dare say you could treat this recipe as more of a guide than a set of rules, and use whatever herbs and spices you have to hand.

Whole broccoli and zhoug spaghetti
You’ll need a food processor to make this.

Prep 10 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 4

1 whole head broccoli (about 350g)
60g fresh coriander, roughly chopped
30g fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
3 green jalapeños, deseeded and finely chopped
1½ tsp ground cumin
1½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cardamom
1½ tbsp lemon juice
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tbsp extra for frying
300g spaghetti

Chop off and discard any woody bits from the broccoli stem, then roughly chop the whole head into pieces, blitz to a mince in a food processor and scrape into a large bowl.

Next, make the zhoug. Put the fresh coriander, parsley, chillies, cumin, ground coriander, cardamom, lemon juice, five tablespoons of oil and half a teaspoon of salt into the food processor and blitz to a smooth paste.

In a large nonstick frying pan, heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil over a medium heat and, when hot, add the blitzed broccoli and a half-teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring every now and then, for about 10 minutes, until sweet and soft, then turn off the heat.

Cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water until al dente and, while it’s cooking, carefully dip a mug into the pot and collect a mugful of the hot pasta water.

Drain the pasta, tip into the broccoli pan, add the zhoug and toss to combine. Add some of the reserved pasta cooking water to loosen it – I used about eight tablespoons – until it looks nice and saucy. Check for seasoning, adjusting the salt, chilli or lemon as you wish, then serve on plates or bowls and eat hot.