Last week my 11-year old daughter comes stampeding into the kitchen fresh off the school bus, scavenging for her after-school snack (and I use that word lightly…she somehow always seems to find the worst option out of everything we have in our house…it is a talent really!). She does her regular rounds; stands in the pantry staring blankly in hopes something will fly off the shelf into her hands, then moves over to the refrigerator suddenly becoming a deer in the headlights once the fridge light hits her pupils. On this particular day, when she opened the fridge I heard a robust “OH Sweet!” come out of her mouth. Immediately my mind thinks “Crap! What high-fructose garbage found its way into the fridge that I did not intercept and now HOW am I going to rip it out of her grubby little hands” After walking over to my daughter I realized she was talking about my Arugula Cashew Cream Sauce that I had made earlier in the day!!! Wait. What? After I picked myself up off the floor, it occurred to me that I might be on to something here. Maybe I should share this recipe I thought.
So here it is, chalked full of all the wonderful green things that you know you should eat but somehow don’t always make the time for. This sauce literally takes about 5 minutes to whip up and requires NO STOVE! Yes, it’s raw. Even if you don’t consider yourself a raw foodist this sauce will transform the way you think about raw ingredients. I know its only April but trust me this sauce is heavenly in the warm summer months when you don’t want to start up your stovetop or even turn on the barbecue. (Reminder: if you are on Pinterest just PinIt and the recipe will be waiting for you when July rolls around). Not that you need to wait, it’s still a pasta dish and that’s good all year round 🙂
The base (as you may have guessed) is cashews. They require about 30 mins of soaking time and then a quick puree in the blender. Make sure to rinse the soaked cashews and add fresh, filtered water into the blender. I like to take 1-1.5 cups of cashews at a time for soaking. This recipe calls for 1 cup of cashew cream (the finished product, not the raw cashews) so you will have extra but it stores in the fridge for about a week or so. When blending the cashews add just enough water to cover the nuts and then add more as needed. You should end up with a thick, smooth cream.
After that everything just gets tossed into a food processor. So simple. The longest part of the preparation will be your noodles. Choose whichever type you like. I tend to use brown rice spaghetti or gnocchi…cause that is just how I roll 🙂
But it is also fantastic on baked spaghetti squash or if you want to keep it totally raw use grated zucchini as your base. Either way it’s truly all about the sauce..it’s so addictive…I could barely stop myself from licking out the processor bowl (truthfully, I was just concerned that I might cut my tongue on the blade )
I do not heat the sauce after the food processor. The heat of the cooked pasta warms the sauce nicely if you marry them right away. However, I am also not the type that likes my food scorching hot so heat if you want but make sure to do so gently. The avocados and cashews are fragile oils that shouldn’t be heated too quickly or too high. This dish is also great served cold if you want for leftovers or to pack as a work lunch. FYI- If you are having any challenges getting your kids to eat something green, I like to make weird names up like crocodile sauce or dinosaur noodles (which, by the way, almost became the title of this recipe).
So that’s it! Meatless Mondays have never been so tasty and easy.
Arugula Cashew Cream Sauce
Prep time: 5-10 mins (plus soaking time for cashews)
Serves: 4-6 people
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 cup cashew cream
juice of 2 lemons, plus zest of 1 lemon for garnish
10-12 pieces of basil
1 avocado, pit and skin removed
4 cups (or 1-5oz clamshell) fresh arugula ***you may substitute spinach if you like or do half-and-half
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp. crushed chili pepper flakes
6-8 cherry tomatoes, quartered (garnish- optional)
- Using a medium sized frying pan add pine nuts over medium heat. Heat them for about 5 minutes until lightly toasted, watching carefully and stirring occasionally. Set aside.
- Toss all all ingredients, including pine nuts, into a food processor or blender. Blend together until thick and creamy. Adding water if you feel you need a thinner sauce.
- Pour over your favorite pasta and top with chopped tomatoes…and a chilled glass of white wine (optional ;-))