Lemon Basil Cashew Cream Pasta

Behold the power of the cashew.  When soaked and pureed, it morphs into a cream that is vegan’s blank canvas to work from.  In this dish you really wouldn’t know there wasn’t any actual cream.  Refreshing lemony, basil sauce smothered all over pasta and topped with pine nuts.  Yes, pine nuts are expensive but they are well worth it here as they complement the other flavors very nicely.

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Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

Olive oil

1/4 cup diced onion

3 garlic cloves, chopped garlic

1/3 cup cashews soaked overnight

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1/4 – 1/3 cup vegetable broth, water from cashews or plain water

1 handful of basil leaves (or more to taste)

Salt and pepper to taste

Toasted pine nuts for garnish

Cooked pasta, cooking water reserved

Method

Heat olive oil in skillet and saute onion and garlic with a pinch of salt over medium heat for about 3 minutes.  Add to blender with cashews, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of broth and basil.  Blend until pureed, adding additional broth as needed.

Heat skillet over low-medium heat and add enough pasta water to just cover the bottom.  Add in sauce and pasta and stir for 1-2 minutes or until heated through.  Add a tablespoon of pasta water at a time if needed to thin out. Add salt and pepper to tasted and drizzle with olive oil if desired.  Serve topped with pine nuts.

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Veggie Lasagna with Tofu Cashew Ricotta

Yep, this lightened up, healthy lasagna is vegan but you really won’t miss the cheese, I swear.  I know because I always loved cheesy baked pasta dishes so I if I was going to create a cheeseless lasagna, it had to be good.  I skip using any type of packaged vegan cheese on this because I’m really picky about how I use those and I wanted to preserve the other flavors going on here.  Of course you can always switch up the veggies based on what you like or have on hand.  One important tip, do pick a good quality pasta sauce if you don’t make your own.  I love Rao’s, Marinelli’s, and Paesana sauces.

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Serves 6

Ingredients

Basil Ricotta

¾ cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked in water 3-4 hrs

½ block of firm tofu, drained and pressed

1 cup fresh basil leaves

3 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

¼ cup lemon juice

1 Tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Low-sodium broth for sautéing

2 portobello caps, gills removed, diced

1 small bell pepper, diced

1 small onion, diced

1 heaping cup chopped broccoli

2 cloves garlic, minced

10 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package

2 cups pasta sauce

Method

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Add all the basil ricotta ingredients to a food processor and process until it all comes together.  Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a few  tablespoons of broth, just enough to barely coat bottom of the pan.  You don’t want too much liquid because you want the veggies to brown a bit.  Add portobello, bell pepper, and onion.  Cook 5 minutes stirring occasionally.  Stir in broccoli and garlic and, adding a little more broth as needed. Cook 3-4 minutes longer or until liquid has cooked off.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Assemble lasagna: (note: you will have to trim noodles to fit and you may not use them all).  Coat bottom of a 8 or 9 inch square baking dish with some of the tomato sauce.  Add a layer of lasagna noodles, spread 1/3 of the ricotta on the noodles, top with half the veggies.  Spread 1/3 of remaining sauce on top.  Repeat with another layer of noodles, ricotta, veggies and sauce.  Now top with the last layer of noodles, ricotta and sauce. Cover with foil and bake 35-40 minutes.

 

Spicy, Saucey Kale Chips

Kick off that 2013 diet with a new healthy snack, amazing kale chips!  I went through a time where I was obsessed to Brad’s Raw kale chips which turned out to be quite a pricey addiction at $8/package.  When I made these I just couldn’t believe how much they tasted like them!

Ingredients

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked in salted water overnight (or at least 4 hours), water reserved

2 Tbsp chopped pimentos (or roasted red pepper)

1 tsp red wine vinegar

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 bunch kale, thick stems removed, torn into pieces

Method

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees.  Place all the ingredients except kale in a blender or food processor and puree.  It should be a thick sauce (see pic below).  If needed, add some of of the reserved water from the cashews. How much liquid you need will depend on how long the cashews were soaked.  It will need more liquid if you only soaked them for a few hours.

Add kale to a large bowl, pour sauce over and toss to thoroughly coat the kale.  Spread kale in one single layer onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Or you can used aluminum foil lightly sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake 30-40 minutes until crisp.

 

Sundried Tomato Cream Pasta

Another delicious “I can’t believe it’s vegan” cream sauce.  I’m officially obsessed with cashews now that I’ve discovered just how rich and creamy they can make sauces, soups or anything.  With this the fresh basil really adds a lot of flavor that complements the sundried tomato very nicely.  Another great addition to stir in at the end, kalamata olives or pine nuts.

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Serves 2

Ingredients

1/3 cup cashews, soaked in water overnight

1/4 cup chopped onion

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/3 cup sundried tomatoes from a jar (drained of oil)

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1/2 – 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (if you like it spicy)

1/2 – 3/4 cup vegetable broth

Salt and pepper to taste

3 cups cooked pasta, cooking water reserved

Fresh basil (optional but really amazing in this)

Method

Heat olive oil in skillet and saute onion and garlic with a pinch of salt over medium heat until onion is translucent; about 3-5 minutes.  Add to food processor or blender with cashews, sundried tomatoes, red wine vinegar, crushed red pepper and 1/2 cup of vegetable broth.  Puree adding more broth as needed.

Heat skillet over low-medium heat and add enough reserved pasta water to just cover the bottom.  Add in sauce and pasta, stir and cook 1-2 minutes or until heated through.  Add a tablespoon of pasta water at time to thin out if needed.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat, stir in basil, drizzle with a little oil from sundried tomatoes or just plain olive oil if desired and serve.