Penne with creamy cashew-avocado sauce for a veggie overload on Meatless Monday
If you're looking to incorporate more plant-based meals into your diet, one of the best resources available is the Humane Society's weekly recipe mailer, which delivers a different delicious vegan meal to your inbox once every seven days. This penne-based dish (adapted from Nut Butter Universe) is a fabulous meal for several reasons: It uses cashews and avocados instead of dairy to create a rich cream sauce that you'll dream about for days afterward -- and will send even the carnivores at your table back for seconds -- and it's easy, requiring just a food processor/blender and an ability to boil water and prep veggies. (A mild amount of advanced preparation is involved.)
You will need:
1/2 cup raw cashews
16 ounces penne pasta (look for pasta without egg to make it vegan)
1 small head broccoli
1 small yellow squash (or half a giant one -- grill or saute the rest as a side dish later in the week)
2 garlic cloves
1 cup vegetable broth (worth it to make your own!)
2 ripe avocados
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes
1-2 bunches fresh basil
1. The night before, place the raw cashews in a bowl and cover with plenty of water so it can soak.
Drain and rinse the cashews before using in the recipe.
2. Put a large pot of water on to boil (with a pinch of salt if you like) and start prepping your veggies while you wait for it to boil.
First, cut the broccoli into little florets. (Discard the stems -- compost!)
Cut the squash into thick slices.
Then cut the slices into little cubes.
Peel the carrot and cut into thin slices.
Peel and crush the garlic. Check the water; when it boils, add the pasta and cook for four minutes. Add the broccoli and carrots and cook for another three minutes, then add the squash and boil for two more minutes.
While the pasta and veggies are cooking, you'll have plenty of time to make the sauce.
3. Warm the broth in the microwave or on the stovetop; when it's hot, put it in the food processor or blender with the cashews and crushed garlic.
It'll look watery when you're done, but have no fear -- the avocado will thicken it up.
4. Cut the scallions into two-inch pieces and add to the sauce, along with the juice from the lemon, salt and pepper.
Scoop the two avocados into the food processor or blender.
Process until smooth. (See -- nice and creamy!)
How are your pasta timers going? It should be almost time to take those ingredients out of the boiling water.
5. Drain the pasta and veggies thoroughly and return to the pot.
6. If you have helpers, put them to work cutting the grape tomatoes in half -- or do it yourself.
Stack the basil leaves, fold them and then slice into thin strips.
7. Thoroughly mix the sauce with the pasta and veggies.
Add the tomatoes and basil and fold them in gently.
Serve with crusty bread and olive oil or vegan butter. This recipe makes enough for four hungry adults.
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