I am basically addicted to creamy pasta dishes. Have you noticed?
This could be a problem for us, health-wise, if it weren’t for the various coping strategies I have picked up over the years which allow us to indulge without eating much actual genuine dairy cream. (Cream is something we try to avoid, due to Mr. Veggie’s elevated cholesterol. Though we recognise that the jury is out on that whole line of thinking, we’re hedging our bets.)
In fact it’s rarely actual cream these days. A lot of the time, it’s avocado, and this obsession has been well documented here. What hasn’t been well documented here is my total love of cashew cream, which dates back about 5 years. And yet I’ve only blogged about it once?!?!
Things are going to change around here.
Cashew cream is pure genius. Unsalted, unroasted cashews are basically flavorless. When soaked and pureed, they closely resemble a thick dairy cream. In a sauce, they will bring that same body and richness. You may not even notice the difference.
Some people find that dairy cream makes them a little sick, or bloated, and this dish totally avoids that. So even if you aren’t vegan, it’s a great way to mix things up from time to time.
So. That’s the cream. It definitely does not end there.
This sauce has a pretty intense flavor from caramelized onions, wine and garlic, with a drizzle of truffle oil to boot. The roasted butternut provides a subtle, savory backdrop for all those flavors and then the cashews make it all rich and decadent.
Except for the wine, these are all amazing, nutritious ingredients. But it tastes kind of naughty. The Holy Grail, don’t ya think?
I made this with white penne, but you could use linguini or wholewheat pasta or gluten free pasta or anything you like.
You can also bake it. We tried it once and it was beautiful! Just cook the pasta a little less time so it isn’t completely soft – then add an extra cup of water and then bake for 45 minutes.
- 1 butternut squash
- 3 onions, sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- ⅓ cup cashews
- 1½ cups of unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy milk - as long as it's not sweet)
- ¾ cup of white wine
- 1 tblsp (or to taste) of white truffle oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Sage leaves, for garnish
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
- In a mug, pour boiling water over your cashews until they are just covered.
- First, you're going to get those onions caramelizing. Over the lowest possible heat, pour some olive oil into a pan and add the onions. Cook, covered, for 45 minutes to an hour. Open the lid regularly to give them a stir. If they start sticking to the pan, pour in just a little white wine or water to deglaze.
- Once you've got the onions going, prepare the squash. Slice in half, lengthways, and scoop out the seeds. Place on a baking tray facing upwards. Brush a little olive oil on top. Place in the oven for about 45 minutes, until the squash is cooked through and a little browned on top. It should be ready around the same time as the onions.
- Once the onions are caramelized, add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, until fragrant.
- Now turn up the heat and add the wine until it starts to bubble. Stir it around, and it will also help to un-stick any bits of onion which stuck to the pan. It will pick up all the browned bits around the pan which will help your cleaning efforts later!
- Once the wine is starting to bubble, add the almond milk and soaked cashews. Scoop the butternut squash out of its skin and add to the pan too. It's going to look a little gross right now, but don't lose the faith just yet.
- Now is a good time to start your pasta going. Add to boiling water and simmer for 10-12 minutes, according to your package instructions.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and puree with a hand blender, or transfer to a high speed blender, until completely smooth.
- Re-heat the sauce in the pan and, finally, stir in the truffle oil after removing from the heat.
- Once the pasta is cooked to your liking, drain and add to the sauce.
- Top with chopped sage leaves and serve.
Sources: Inspired by the roasted butternut alfredo from The PPK.