Vegan Fettuccini Alfredo
Raise your hand if you want to eat creamy pasta dishes all the time but you don't want the inevitable food hangover that can come with them? (I suspect that many of you are raising your hands). This recipe is one of my favorite solutions to that problem. It comes from Cathy at Straight Up Food, who is all about creating delicious, minimally processed recipes.
This easy pasta dish, traditionally made with cheese, milk, butter and oil, has been given a healthy makeover, using cashews and white beans to create the creamy white sauce. The cashews add richness while the white beans help keep the calories down.
For the pasta:
1 package fettuccini pasta (12 ounces), to serve 4
For the sauce:
¾ cup water
2 ounces raw, unsalted cashews (about ½ cup)
1 can white beans (15 ounces; about 1½ cups), drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
¾ teaspoon ground white pepper
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (or a pinch to ¼ teaspoon preground)
1 ounce cashews, walnuts, or pine nuts (about ¼ cup; for optional garnish)
Chopped parsley (for optional garnish)
To start the Alfredo sauce, place the water and cashews into a blender, and set aside for at least 15 minutes (so the cashews can soften).
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions (about 10 minutes). Drain and rinse with cool water, return the to the pot, and set aside (off of the heat).
Add the beans, lemon juice, garlic, white pepper, and nutmeg to the blender of cashews and water, and blend until very smooth (add a little water as needed to thin).
Stir the Alfredo sauce into the pot of cooked pasta, and heat through on medium-low heat (don't boil). Serve immediately as is or topped with grated nuts (use a rotary cheese grater to create a parmesan cheese-like topping) and/or chopped fresh parsley.
White beans. You can use any type of white beans in this recipe. I usually use navy beans, but you can also use great northern, cannellini, or "white" beans. Adjust the nuts. If you don't want to use nuts in the sauce, simply substitute ½ cup more white beans in their place. The sauce will not have the same richness (since nuts are nearly all fat), but it will still produce a nice sauce. Also, feel free to decrease or increase the nuts as desired, adjusting the beans measurement accordingly (so that you end up with a total of 2 cups of cashews and beans). For a little more flavor, add a teaspoon of lemon zest or ¼ to ½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes to the pasta and sauce in step 4. For a heartier meal, add some lightly cooked vegetables, such as onion, mushrooms, green peas, and/or summer squash, and/or chopped fresh tomatoes.