No Cream Creamy Cashew Pasta
Yields: serves 4-6 Prep Time: 25 minutes (plus 2 hour cashew soaking time) Total Time: 40 minutes
Unbelievably creamy and not a lick of milk in the sauce! Soaked and pureed cashews and cauliflower come together for a protein and veggie packed decadent sauce that is actually incredibly healthy! (As a bonus, this sauce can be used for anything from pasta, baked spaghetti squash to your favorite fish or chicken dish!)
10 ounces pasta, gluten free if needed
1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours to overnight
1 cup chopped cauliflower
2 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth
1 tablespoon chopped white or yellow onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt (may need more or less depending on salt level in chosen broth)
1/2 cup high quality Parmesan cheese (optional, and won’t be dairy free)
For the chicken
1 chicken breast (about 3/4 pound)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1. Place cashews in dish that has a lid, cover with water, and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, but not longer than overnight (they get too soggy).
2. Place drained and soaked cashews, chopped cauliflower, diced onion and minced garlic in a sauté pan with a tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté for a few minutes to soften the veggies.
3. Add lemon juice, thyme, salt and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes.
4. Place mixture in a high speed blender (or food processor) and process until smooth. Be careful, as mixture is hot.
5. In a sauté pan (or in the same one used as the sauce if the sauce is still in the blender), add diced chicken, olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme and salt. Sauté until chicken is cooked through. Turn off heat.
6. Add sauce from blender back to sauté pan with chicken. If desired (and not needing a dairy free sauce), mix in half a cup of Parmesan cheese. Serve and enjoy!
So, most of my recipes stem out of a need for myself or my family. This one was born because my one of my kiddos is getting pickier and yet needs as much nutrient dense food as she can get.
To add fuel to my fire of the challenge of making family friendly recipes, I’m starting to suspect a dairy allergy in my youngest. She also has had a bit of a cold, and I subscribe to no mucus-producing (ie: dairy) foods when one of the kids has a cold. True or not, I feel it makes a difference for the patient.
This sauce was one of those recipes that I threw together on a Friday afternoon, and planned to serve with spaghetti squash. However, I realized I couldn’t get to pick up on time and get the spaghetti squash in (and out) of the oven in time. So, I had to scratch the squash and go with actual spaghetti pasta, which is much more time-friendly.
These winter days can be tough to get dinner and get to activities when it seems like everything takes longer because of the weather. Now, some of it is just the way it feels and some of it actually does take longer. I get weary just thinking about the boots, coats, hats mittens (and now scarves) that are required in this negative wind chill Midwest winter.
So, the good news is, this is a relatively quick dinner, much less, a quick sauce to make. As I mentioned above, you could easily use this sauce for a creamy topping for a chicken or fish dish, too. The other cool thing is this can be completely vegan if you use veggie stock, omit the cheese. (…And of course, don’t serve it with chicken!) It is gluten free as well, (no flour as a thickener), making it a great option for people who are avoiding the allergens of dairy and wheat.
My last pitch for just how great this dish is, is that not only is it made without cream, it is made WITH vegetables! Cauliflower is a powerhouse of nutrition, from vitamin C to fiber and magnesium (to name a few). Plus, cashews are cholesterol free and packed with protein, vitamin E and iron. I added a tad bit of raw Parmesan cheese because I like the depth of flavor Parmesan brings to the dish. It can be easily omitted if necessary.
Oh, and the most important part – it was a raging success! My 3-year old said, “Mommy, this is actually good!” My oldest was skeptical when she knew the ingredients, and then after tasting, she was my biggest cheerleader to all that were to taste next. Because what good is a healthy recipe that no one wants to eat?
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