Pasta with Vegetables in Cashew Cream Sauce
As a runner following a plant-based diet, I love cashews. Their healthy fats and relatively neutral ﬂavor make them an excellent substitute for dairy-based sauces and cheeses. Each week, I make a batch of cashew sour cream to drizzle on chili, mix with sriracha and garlic for a sandwich spread, even drizzle atop a homemade vegan pizza in place of more expensive vegan “cheese” products.
As an added bonus, unlike dairy products, raw cashews are shelf-stable. In the time it takes me to prep other ingredients for a recipe, I can soak a cup of raw cashews in warm water, softening them enough to blend into a creamy base. Cup for cup, raw cashews have more protein and ﬁber than heavy cream, as well as less fat and fewer calories. Additionally, cashews are a great source of magnesium (helpful for sore muscles), copper, manganese, and Omega-6 fatty acids.
In this pasta dish, cashews blend with sunﬂower seeds to create a creamy sauce for vegetables and pasta. Comfort fuel.
Adapted from yumuniverse.com.
This dish is great leftover, although it does not freeze well. Re-heated and topped with marinara sauce, this pasta got the thumbs-up from my son and his thirteen-year old friends when he brought it for lunch at school.
- 1 16 oz. pkg brown rice penne pasta.
- 1 tbsp unreﬁned coconut oil.
- 1 large yellow onion, diced.
- 1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, diced.
- 1 10 oz. pkg crimini (baby bella mushrooms), quartered (or pre-sliced).
- 1/4 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 2 cloves garlic, minced.
- 3 tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or tamari or coconut aminos if you are GF).
- 2 tbsp water.
- 1/4 tsp liquid smoke.
- fresh parsley, minced.
- freshly ground black pepper.
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 1/2 cup raw sunﬂower seeds or raw green pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1 cup pure water
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I use the juice of half a lemon)
- 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp ﬁne ground sea salt
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil (I use a generous, three-ﬁnger pinch of salt to a large pot of water).
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Undercook it slightly, as the cooking will ﬁnish when you toss the pasta with the hot vegetables and sauce. Gluten free pasta tends to get gummy quickly.
- Drain and rinse the pasta in cold water to stop the cooking process.
Cream Sauce Instructions
- In a small bowl, cover cashews and sunﬂower or pumpkin seeds with warm water and 1 tablespoon salt, stirring to dissolve the salt. Soak for at least one hour.
- Discard soaking water and place the cashews and sunﬂower seeds in a blender. Add water, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and salt. Blend until smooth and creamy.
- Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add chopped onion and peppers. Saute for 7-10 minutes until onion is translucent and peppers begin to soften.
- Add mushrooms. Allow the mushrooms to sit in the pan for a few minutes without stirring. This will start a caramelization process in the mushrooms. Mushrooms are introverted vegetables. They give more when they are left alone for a bit.
- When mushrooms begin to brown, add sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, garlic, aminos, water, and liquid smoke. Stir. Saute, disturbing only to keep vegetables from sticking, until spinach is wilted and liquid has evaporated.
In the large pasta pot, combine pasta, cooked vegetables, and cream sauce. Flavor with freshly ground black pepper and minced parsley, to taste.
Serve and enjoy!