Mushroom and Herb Pasta with Vegan Cashew Cream Sauce
The cashew cream sauce in this dish is so deliciously rich and creamy that its hard to believe it is entirely dairy-free and vegan! – trust me you won’t even miss the cream or cheese!
You might think a creamy pasta would be out of reach for anyone not eating dairy products, I did too until I discovered you can make an excellent, creamy sauce using cashews. The mushrooms give a savoury and almost “meaty” taste and texture, while the thyme, chives, and parsley lend a lot of flavour and freshness. This vegan dish is so simple and easy to make – and I am sure even meat lovers will love it (as the ones I know and fed it to, did).
Cashew cream sauce
- olive oil 1 tablespoon
- onion 1, diced
- cashew nuts* 1 cup soaked
- salt ½ teaspoon
- vegetable stock powder ½ teaspoon
- garlic 1 small clove
- lemon juice 2 tablespoons
- soy sauce 1 tablespoon
- water ¾ cup
Pasta and mushrooms
- fresh pasta 400g (or 250g dried pasta) (egg-free and gluten-free if required)
- olive oil 2 tablespoons
- swiss brown button mushrooms 400g, sliced
- garlic 2 cloves, chopped
- thyme leaves 2 tablespoons finely chopped
- chives 1/3 cup finely chopped + extra for garnish
- flat-leaf parsley 3-4 tablespoons finely chopped + extra for garnish
- basil leaves 1 small handful (optional)
- baby rocket leaves 4 handfuls
- extra-virgin avocado or olive oil and balsamic glaze to dress
- To make the cashew cream sauce, heat olive oil in a fry pan on low medium heat. Cook onion very gently, avoiding getting any colour on them, for about 2 minutes, until starting to soften. Transfer onion to a food processor or high speed blender, along with remaining sauce ingredients and blend until very smooth and creamy – this will take at least a few minutes. Scrape down the sides of the processor/blender with a spatula as needed. Add a bit more water or milk as required (probably about ¼ cup) to achieve a pouring cream consistency.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil for the pasta. Heat olive oil in a large fry pan on medium heat. Cook mushrooms, with a good pinch of salt, for about 3 minutes until starting to soften – if they are getting a bit dry, you can add a tablespoon or two of white wine or vegetable stock and they will soak it up, helping to keep them soft and moist. Add garlic and thyme to the mushrooms, and continue to cook for a further 1 minute. Set aside one third of the cooked mushroom mixture (this will be used for garnishing later).
- Cook pasta according to packet instructions until al dente (just cooked thorugh). Add cashew cream sauce to the mushrooms in the pan and bring to a gentle simmer to heat through. Turn off the heat and stir through chives and parsley.
- Scoop out about 1/3 cup of pasta cooking water and stir into the sauce. Drain pasta and divide between serving bowls. Spoon over cashew cream sauce and garnish with extra cooked mushrooms, chives, parsley and basil leaves (if using). Serve with rocket salad, dressed with avocado/olive oil and balsamic, on the side.
*To soften cashew nuts, either soak them in cold water overnight, or you can boil them in water for 10-15 minutes. Drain well before using.