Thursday, March 26, 2009
Like most people, I love pasta (what's not to love, right?). As an adult, I like a wide variety of sauces, for a wide variety of noodles: red sauces, white sauces, pesto sauces, coconut curry sauces, spicy peanut sauces, you name it. When I was a kid, however, my all-time favorite way to eat pasta was my father's linguine alfredo, which was about as rich, thick and creamy as you could get; in fact, it would not surprise me in the least if he used actual heavy cream for it (my parents were like that). He usually made it as a special treat when we were home together and everyone else was out, since there were a few years when my mother worked on Friday nights, and my older siblings were off doing their own things. Often my favorite uncle would come by as well, and they would hang out, drink a few beers and talk while I ate my noodles and watched "Little House on the Prairie," which was my prime-time viewing of choice in those days. Good times.
Anyway, there are a lot of vegan alfredo sauces out there, in cookbooks and on the web, but I had something very specific in mind when I set out to make mine, so the recipe below is the result of several different tries before I got it "right." The vegetables are not necessarily traditional, but A. I'm kind of a freak about squeezing in as many as possible, and B. we had some nice asparagus on hand that day. You could certainly add, subtract or change them up to suit your own taste, BUT. The peas are non-negotiable. Serve this pasta with crusty bread, cold white wine and a salad. Or forget all that and just fill a ginormous bowl, then eat them all yourself. Buon appetito!
~ 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
~ 1 cup diced onion
~ 2 tbsp. minced garlic
~ About a dozen asparagus stalks, cut into 1/2" pieces
~ 2 cups sliced mushrooms
~ 1 cup frozen peas
~ 2 tbsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce
~ 1 tsp. each: thyme, basil, parsley, salt
~ Fresh black pepper
~ In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil and saute onion and garlic about 3 minutes on medium heat.
~ Add the mushrooms, asparagus, Worcestershire sauce and dry spices. Cook another 5-10 minutes, toss in the frozen peas, and remove from heat.
~ 2 tbsp. Earth Balance or other vegan margarine
~ 2 tbsp. flour
~ 1 lb. lite silken tofu
~ 1 cup raw cashews
~ 1 cup unsweetened soy milk
~ 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
~ 1 sweet potato, cooked and mashed (about 1 cup)
~ 1 tbsp. dried basil
~ 1 tsp. salt
~ 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
~ 1 lb. drained, cooked pasta of your choice (follow package directions)
~ Chopped, fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
~ In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients except the Earth Balance and the flour. Process until completely smooth.
~ In a large pot, melt the Earth Balance over low heat and add the flour, stirring to make a roux. Cook for about 1 minute, adding a splash of water if it thickens too fast.
~ Add the mixture from the food processor and stir thoroughly to combine.
~ Raise the heat to medium and bring to almost boiling. Add the cooked vegetables and stir to combine.
~ Pour over cooked pasta (we used farfalle this time, but linguine or fettuccine would be optimal), toss thoroughly and sprinkle with fresh parsley: yummy!