I never really much liked fettucine alfredo. Maybe it’s because advocacy group the Center for Science in the Public Interest once memorably called it “a heart attack on a plate,” but the heavy duty combo of butter, heavy cream, and parmesan cheese has just never made my tastebuds sing.
So why did I start playing in the kitchen to make a vegan version of this uber-rich pasta dish? No idea. But I’m so glad I did.
If you don’t eat dairy ingredients (or simply prefer to keep things a little more plant powered), you might think that creamy dinners are off the table for you. Until you learn about a little thing called cashew cream.
You see, if you soak raw (in other words, not the roasted and salted ones) cashews in water, drain, and blend them with a little more water, and voila—you have a creamy base that can be used in savory and sweet dishes.
Lately, my favorite is blending it up with some garlic, lemon juice, pepper, and salt, and using it to top vegetables and pasta for a hearty, satisfying, totally veg meal.
I’m not saying it’s as good as traditional alfredo sauce. What I’m saying is, I never liked alfredo sauce, and I can’t get enough of this stuff. Also, I feel good after a dinner featuring it—a new family favorite around here. Who can say that after chowing down on “a heart attack on a plate?” Ah, the power of plants!
Creamy, Dreamy Pasta Sauce (No Dairy Necessary!)
Prep time: 30+ minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes (just for the sauce; factor in time for cooking pasta and vegetables if you’re making it a meal)
1 cup raw cashews
1 teaspoon olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup water
Juice of ½ lemon
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly crushed black pepper
In a bowl, cover cashews with water and let sit for at least 30 minutes (as long as overnight is fine). While cashews are soaking, heat olive oil in a saucepan over a low-medium flame. Add crushed garlic and sautee until soft, about 3 minutes, and let cool. After 30 minutes, drain cashews in a colander and place cashews in a blender. Add 1 cup water, lemon juice, garlic (removed from oil), salt, and black pepper. Blend until sauce appears thick and creamy; time depends on your blender but give it a good few minutes to get it nice and smooth (you may need to stop a few times to scrape the sides of the blender with a rubber spatula). Use extra water to thin as needed.
To serve: Roast up a bunch of vegetables like cauliflower or grape tomatoes (toss with olive oil and cook at 425 degrees for 20-30 minutes, tossing every so often) and top spaghetti or even zucchini noodles (or a mix) with the roasted veggies and sauce.
In the photo above, we did a blend of spaghetti and zucchini noodles—boil the pasta according to the instructions on the package, add the zucchini noodles for the last 2 minutes to soften them up. Add roasted vegetables and enough sauce to coat, and toss well.
Give it a try and let us know what you think!