garlic cashew cream pasta with green peas

What time is it? It’s pasta time! We were inspired to make this pasta by the Sacramento Foods Co-op. They have a “Garlic Lover’s Pasta”  in their deli case from time to time, which is vegetarian. But we went ahead and dreamed up a vegan version of this pasta, and MMMM MMM it’s good!

The cream sauce is made up of toasted cashews, garlic, unsweetened soy milk, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, dried basil, dried thyme, sea salt, and cracked black pepper. After some food processoring-ering-ering and stove magic, we poured this sauce over whole wheat fusilli and green peas, and enjoyed it with roasted kale and carrots on the side.

We have found that a combination of nuts (for fat), nutritional yeast (for cheesy flavor), and sea salt (for uh…salt!) are great for replacing cheese, since our tongue recognizes cheese as basically fat and salt. Nuts, seeds, and oils are a great way for us vegans to get the healthy fats that we aren’t getting elsewhere in our diet, and they are also a great source of protein and other nutrients. Some key nutrients in cashews are iron, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, calcium, and protein.

Green peas are also action packed with nutrients and ridiculously delicious! Key nutrients in green peas include calcium, iron, vitamin C, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.

This pasta was enjoyed hot by the bear and the blackberry, but it is also great cold, as in pasta salad. We love pasta time!

chiocciole with butternut cashew cream sauce

We tried a new spin on pasta, making a homemade sauce that was delectable and interesting. Using the magic amazing food processor, we blended together roasted butternut squash, toasted cashews, earth balance, nutritional yeast, soy milk, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper. We added it to some boiled whole wheat chiocciole pasta shells (“snail” in Italian, for the shape), topped it with sauteed red onion and mushrooms, and finished it off with a fresh basil garnish. VOILA!

The sauce was creamy, rich, tangy.. so many good flavors bouncing off each other, our taste buds were quite sufficiently satisfied. Snail pasta? Snail pasta!

A couple fun facts about nutritional yeast:
Not only is it a very high source of vitamin B12, it is cheesy in flavor, so its great when paired with a fat (like nuts) and salt to replace cheese. Because cheese is basically just salty fat gone bad (rotten nipple juice) this is wayyyyy better!!! Hooray!

kale and kalamata pasta

So I have already explained my love for kale, but I have neglected to mention it’s amazing versatility! Since kale is in season and is incredibly nutritious, I like to try and see all of the different ways I can incorporate it into dishes.  Not only is it great as a side, in a salad, or as an addition to a tofu scramble, it is also great in pasta!

For this pasta dish I found an ancient species of wheat pasta called Einkorn, which is very tasty and a good source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. While the pasta was boiling, I heated up our big cast iron skillet with some olive oil and then tossed in some chopped garlic. After letting the garlic sizzle for a couple of minutes, I added in some chopped kale and a little bit of vegetable broth, and covered. Kale is a very fibrous vegetable (it belongs to the cabbage family) so you want to take that into consideration when adding it to a dish by letting it cook long enough to help break down the fibers so that your teeth won’t have to. After a couple of minutes of steaming, I uncovered the skillet and threw in the cremini mushrooms and kalamata olives along with a little more olive oil, sauteing for a couple of minutes. Next we drained the pasta after testing to see that it was al dente (slightly firm to the bite) and added it into the skillet along with some halved grape tomatoes, finishing it off with some fresh lemon juice.

This pasta was so good… Jef got seconds and he wanted thirds! The flavors went well together, the tang of the tomatoes with the saltyness of the kalamata olives, the hearty kale with the fresh taste of lemon juice… yum! I deem this dish menu-worthy.