Monday, October 15, 2012

Pasta Alfredo Primavera

I have a funny story about alfredo sauce... Years ago, I used to make it with butter, cheese, and heavy whipping cream. It was lethal, but of course everybody loved it. I gave the recipe to a fellow cocktail waitress at Harrah's Tahoe, and she was all excited to make it for a party. She came back to work the next day looking sort of perplexed. She said it tasted... weird... Expanding on her story, she went step by step through how she had made the recipe, and then said, "It was all fine until I added the Cool Whip..." 

Fast forward to Now. My recipe is updated to a much healthier place, and I trust we all know the difference between whipping cream and Cool Whip, even though we won't be going anywhere near either of them. I took this to a party recently, and got rave reviews from everyone there, even though no one was vegan. It's rich and creamy and beautiful. While it's great for a potluck, it's best hot and bubbly, right out of the over for a nice dinner at home. You can also use this sauce over any pasta, or as a pizza sauce.

Pasta Alfredo Primavera

1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 20 minutes or more, then drained and rinsed
1 lb package silken tofu
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper (or black)
2 tsp dry basil
1 tsp dry oregano
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup nut milk (or any plant milk)

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor, and blend on high speed until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

1/2 pound fresh spinach, chopped
2 cups fresh broccoli, small florets
1 cup fresh carrots, chopped
1 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen corn

Other Ingredients
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds or pine nuts
additional basil

Lightly oil a 10x10 inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 350ยบ.
Cook 1 pound of whole grain elbow, twisty, or shell pasta according to package directions. I like to use brown rice pasta for this.
Steam the broccoli and carrots in a colander placed over the boiling pasta for about 2-3 minutes. (Alternately, just throw the broccoli and carrots in with the pasta for the last 3 minutes of cooking.)
Drain the cooked pasta, and return it to the cooking pot. (Turn off the heat)
Gently stir in the spinach until it wilts.
Stir in the other vegetables.
Reserve 1 cup of sauce, and then stir the rest of the sauce into the pasta and veggies.
Pour the pasta mixture into the baking dish, and bake for 30 minutes.
Pour the remaining 1 cup of sauce over the top, and sprinkle with seeds or nuts, and a little extra basil.
Cook 10 minutes more.
Serve hot from the oven, with a nice crisp salad.

Shortcut: Stir everything into the cooked pasta until it's hot and saucy, and serve directly from the pot, without baking.