If you don’t eat anything with a face nor anything that comes from something with a face then you can end up eating a lot of tomato based Italian food. How much? A LOT. The default meal cooked by a restaurant “chef” who couldn’t be bothered spending 3.764 minutes finding a decent vegan recipe is “Pasta in a tomato sauce, with whatever vegetables need to be used but always capsicum”. Don’t get me wrong, we love a good Spaghetti Bolognese in this house, but sometimes it is nice to have something different when taking the menu to Italia for the night. Something with a creamy sauce rather than a tomato sauce.
But how to dream of cream without playing milkmaid?
Yes…nuts….or to be more specific cashew nuts. Oh yes…
Soak raw cashews in water and then blend them and you get…cashew cream; another one of those unlikely little transformations that make cooking a joy. Cashew cream is a great base for cream based recipes whether sweet or savoury.
So…Vieni con me in cucina con i vostri anacardi e faremo una bella cena insieme (*)
Portate con voi (abbastanza per due)
- 1/2 cup of raw cashews
- half a dozen or so medium sized mushrooms, quartered
- your choice of: green beans, asparagus, broccoli spears, fresh peas, broad beans or whatever something green you like. In any case you want about an equal amount as you have of mushrooms. Chop into stir-fry type pieces
- one small onion, cut into large rings or quartered and separated.
- two cloves of garlic, minced
- a TBSP of light miso paste
- about two TSP of chopped, fresh rosemary
- about 1/4 of a cup of chopped, fresh flat leaf parsley
- one bay leaf
- 2 TSPN of ground pepper (this may seem excessive but the cream sauce dulls the heat a lot)
- one cup of white wine
- olive oil
- penne – use gluten free if desired (however much you think you’ll need; some people like a lot of pasta, some not so much. Go on…make a decision on your own)
- Before getting to the rest of the “method” – don’t forget to cook the pasta as per the manufacturer’s recommendation, timing the pasta to be ready whenever the following is done. Helpful tip: The steps related to making the creamed cashews, and mixing it into the saucy, wine mix can be done ahead of time, making it all much easier to get the timing right.
- Firstly, soak the cashews in water. Best to use freshly boiled water; cover the nuts and leave them for at least three hours. Oops!! You didn’t read this until it was WAY too late to leave them for 3 hours! Panic not and do what everyone else does…cheat. Put the nuts and water into a small, covered pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Regardless of how you got there…drain the nuts afterwards, retaining the water.
- To cream the cashews: place the soaked nuts in a Bamix Wet and Dry Processor or similar. You could use any food processor of course but something small like the aforementioned will work best as you’re not doing a high volume of material. Add a little of the water and blend until a fluffy, smooth and absolutely-no-solid-bits consistency is achieved. Keep adding a bit more of the water as needed, as you go along. If you run out of the reserved water just use some extra. Once done…put aside.
- In a small pot very lightly sauté the garlic and ground pepper in some olive oil. As soon as it is aromatic add the wine, the miso, the bay leaf, rosemary and half of the parsley. Dissolve the miso then continue to lightly simmer for a minute, then remove from the heat. Add the creamed cashews and mix thoroughly.
- In a heavy fry pan sauté the onion in some more olive oil until clear.
- Add the mushrooms and whatever green vegetables you decided on into the pan with the onion. Cook until just done – it is nice when the vegetables retain some crispness.
- Remove the vegetables from the heat and add the sauce to the vegetables along with the rest of the parsley and mix thoroughly. You will notice that the creamed cashew mix thickens somewhat when added to the hot pan; add a little more water to thin the mix if desired.
- Serve over the pasta.
(* this may or may not translate as “Come with me to the kitchen with your cashews and we will make a beautiful dinner together”)