Monday, 19 April 2010

Vegan cashew cream pasta recipe

I've been experimenting with vegan food a lot recently: I've been re-evaluating after reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, even though neither of them specifically advocate turning vegan.

I don't intend to go fully vegan either, but I've been trying to go for fewer animal products, more organic, and more local and seasonal - within the restrictions of my budget and working hours: a lot of the time I still have to go to the major supermarkets and settle for the most ethical/affordable option they have. Oh... and another boundary is stuff that won't grow here no matter what the season :) I'll cut down on the exotics, sure, but no WAY am I giving up coffee, to name just one thing.

So, for the next recipe, the cashew nuts were most definitely not local, and to be honest I'm not quite sure where the pasta and the sun-dried tomatoes came from... but the courgette was local, and organic, and from the little eco cornershop rather than the big supermarket, and the cashew nuts also came from said cornershop.

I've found that I'm not wild about a lot of soy-based dairy replacements (though some have worked well for me, recipes to follow), so in search of other options I came across cashew nuts as a base for faux creams and sour creams, which is what I was trying out in this experiment. It's not a culinary masterpiece, but it's quick and tasty, and I thought the cashew sauce worked beautifully - will definitely be experimenting further with that!

Cashew cream pasta
(serves 2)
blender or immersion blender


(the 'cup' used in this and other recipes is a mug, which, as I have just measured and used teh interwebz to convert, holds just over one US cup of water or 8.45 fl.oz)
  • 1 cup of raw cashew nuts  
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2-3 tbs lemon juice (optional)
  • 1 medium courgette (zucchini), halved and thinly sliced 
  • 10-15 sundried tomatoes in oil, coarsely chopped (if you're health/calorie conscious, drain the oil and pat the tomatoes dry with kitchen towel. I just fished them out of the jar, but didn't try to get rid of excess oil)
  • 2 tbs pine nuts
  • 250 g./9 oz spaghetti
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
1) blend the cashew nuts, water and a little salt for a few minutes or until very, very smooth.

2) Heat the cashew sauce in a heavy saucepan, stirring frequently, until it has significantly thickened - careful not to let it burn - and turn off the heat

3) Put on water for the pasta, and in a large skillet gently dry-toast the pine nuts: careful, they can burn very suddenly. While they are toasting, chop the tomatoes and slice the courgette.

4) remove the pine nuts from the pan and set aside. Heat a little olive oil in the same pan, and gently saute the courgette unlil soft and translucent. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions

5) add the sundried tomatoes to the pan with the courgette and briefly cook, then add the cashew sauce. I wanted to go for a slight creme fraiche/sour cream-like sourness, so at this point I stirred in the lemon juice.

6) Finally, stir in the pine nuts, and add the pasta to the sauce, add salt and pepper to taste.