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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pasta with Kale in Lemon-Cashew Sauce

When life hands you lemons... make pasta!  Seriously, it's going to make you feel way better about yourself and life in general than lemonade.  Unless there's vodka in that lemonade.  Then it's a toss up...

My favorite- and simultaneously unfavorite- thing that people ask me when they discover that I'm vegan is, "What do you eat???"  Well, everything!  As long as it isn't made from animals!  Honestly, I have tried more new foods since going veg than I ever did before.  Quinoa, mango, beets, jicama, tempeh, parsnips, collard greens, papaya, couscous, arborio rice, Brussels sprouts, polenta, dates, to name a few.  But, most importantly, I have been introduced to kale.

Kale is like the super hero of the produce department.  That stuff can save lives.  And you probably aren't eating enough of it.  I know I'm not.  During my first year of navigating the vegetarian life, I ran across a recipe in a magazine for spaghetti with kale, and I remember thinking, "Hey, that looks easy.  I don't know if I like kale, but I could give it a shot."  And then I immediately forgot where I had read the recipe and never tried it and actually hadn't even thought about it again until just now.  So, yeah.  Moving on...

You may remember that I made a skillet salad with kale a while back.  The tofu was marinated in lemon juice and other stuff.  So I thought I'd take a shot at making a pasta dish with kale and lemon.  And I did.  And it was good.  REAL good.  In fact, I've just stuffed myself with three helpings of it [and kind of regretting that last serving].  But it's so awesome/delicious/flavorful/magical/addictive!!!

The sauce is creamy, but doesn't have any milk or cheese or anything of the sort.  As with the last post, I soaked cashews for the creaminess.  I was afraid that 1/2 cup of lemon juice would be too much, but I'd say the sauce came out perfect.  In fact, the whole thing pretty much rocks.  But don't just take my word for it- try it out yourself and let me know what you think!

1 box whole wheat pasta (I used penne)
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked*
3 cups vegetable broth
Juice of 2 lemons (I got about 1/2 cup)
1 tsp dried basil
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced onion
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sliced baby carrots
 A lot of kale- I have no idea how much I used, it was just over half the bunch.  Maybe 5 cups? stems removed and torn into small pieces
Salt and pepper

*Cashew soaking: To quick soak, put the cashews in a microwave-safe bowl and cover with water.  Nuke for 2 minutes and set aside to cool.

For the sauce: In a high-speed blender or food processor, combine broth, lemon juice, basil, cornstarch, and oil.  Drain the cashews and add those as well.  Blend on high, until creamy.  
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Cook pasta according to directions on package.   Reserve about 2 cups of the water.
In another big pan, saute onions on medium heat for about 5 min.  Add garlic and cook 1 min more.  Now throw in the carrots and cook those babies for a minute as well.  Give the sauce a quick blend, since it has likely separated a little.  Pour the sauce over the veggies and simmer for a minute to thicken.  At this point, it looked like the sauce was going to be too thick, so I stirred in about 2 cups of the pasta water to thin it out a little.  Throw in the kale and stir to cover with the sauce.  Allow the kale to cook for about 5 min, until it has wilted a little but is still bright green.
If you have not yet done so, drain the pasta, and then add that to the saucy veggies.  Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Enjoy!  In moderation.  You'll thank me later.

I won!!!   :)


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