Creamy Pesto “Pasta” with Spring Vegetables
In an effort to limit my dairy intake, (my ND actually wants me to stay away from it completely but I can’t completely give up cheese!), I’ve been playing around with things like cashew cream. I saw this amazing recipe from Bon Apetit for a creamy fettuccine pasta with fresh vegetables and wanted to see if I could do it dairy and grain-free.
I was so happy with the outcome of this dish. I lowered the amount of prosciutto the original recipe called for because it was a little too salty. You can leave it out completely for a fully vegan dish, and the sauce still tastes amazing. It is still a rich dish, but I love all of the fresh vegetables. In all of it’s richness I would expect it to ring in at over 1,000 calories but to my surprise each serving is only 340 calories!
I just love all of the vibrant green colors of this dish as we’re finally coming into Spring. Usually when I do a pasta dish, I use spaghetti squash, but since the dish already used so many green vegetables I thought zucchini noodles would compliment them well. If you’ve never made them before, they’re super easy. I like to blanch them quickly to help them soften a bit, but you could totally eat them raw too. You can use one of these handy (and cheap!) julienne slicers or a super cool spiral slicer. Either way will work, but I love the spiral slicer because you get long continuous strands that really resemble noodles and it also automatically discards the center of the vegetable so you are left with virtually no seeds.
- 4 medium zucchini, peeled and sliced into thin noodles
- 1 cup asparagus pieces
- 2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 2 ounces prosciutto (omit for vegan and add ¼ teaspoon salt)
- ½ cup frozen peas (omit if you’d like for Paleo)
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 4 cups boiling water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- dash of white pepper
- dash of nutmeg
- Garnish with toasted pine nuts and fresh basil
- Boil the 4 cups water, then pour it over the cashews. Soak them in the boiling water for 30 minutes.
- Bring another large pot of water to a boil, then add the zucchini noodles and blanch quickly for 1-2 minutes. Remove the noodles with a slotted spoon and place in a colander. Immediately run cold water over them then turn them out onto a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Set off to the side until your sauce is done.
- Add the asparagus to the same pot of water and cook for about 3 minutes until tender but still crisp. Drain the water and set the asparagus off to the side.
- Sauté the prosciutto and mushrooms in the olive oil for 5 minutes over medium heat. Reduce heat to low while you make the sauce.
- Drain the cashews, but reserve the soaking water. Blend the cashews with 1 cup of the soaking water in a blender. Add the lemon juice, nutmeg, basil, salt, pepper, and garlic and blend to a smooth sauce.
- Add the sauce, asparagus, and the peas to the mushrooms and prosciutto and simmer for 7-10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and remove from heat. If your sauce is a little too thick, add a bit of the cashew water to help thin it out.
- Serve the sauce over the zucchini noodles garnished with toasted pine nuts and fresh basil.
- The pasta will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Some water will gather at the bottom of your container because of the zucchini. You can drain it before heating, or simply stir it into the sauce to help thin it as it thickens when chilled.