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I got super-hungry at the dojo and all I could think about was pasta. Luckily, I wasn’t supposed to be teaching or learning, just standing there so Sensei could film himself doing the yellow-belt moves for a big documentation project he’s doing for his 5th degree. Thus, in between takes, I googled alfredo and vodka sauces.

I ended up starting with this recipe from Vegansaurus. Now, because I A) didn’t have a fresh bulb of garlic — I have no idea where it went — or a red onion, but I did have a bunch of crimini mushrooms and fresh basil and B) I’m terrible at following directions, I ended up slightly modifying all this.

My version:

  • Jar of “classic herb” marinara (from Whole Foods)
  • Leftover quarter box of chopped tomatoes from the last time I used some (I keep them in old sauce jars for up to a week)
  • Approximately 1-1/2 cups of cashew cream (you can use Vegansaurus’s version if you want — I again went rogue)
  • Nutritional yeast — let’s estimate 3/4 of a cup
  • 1/2 cup vodka (Not a big vodka person so all I could find was Three Olives Lemon or Skyy Vanilla so I went with the Lemon)
  • 1/4 cup wine
  • About 5 basil leaves
  • Maybe 10 crimini mushrooms
  • Garlic powder
  • Oregano
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil

I started with the sauce and tomatoes and vodka and wine in the pot on low while I cut up the mushrooms and soaked the cashews (I used about 3/4 of a cup). Other recipes I’d seen suggested soaking the cashews for a half hour as opposed to six, so mine ended up soaking about forty minutes because I got distracted along the way. I have a pretty good food processor, so if you don’t, you may want to soak longer.)

Distraction the First: Asparagus

I rinsed the asparagus, trimmed the ends, and put it in a pan with olive oil and a “salt-free Italian Seasoning” I got from Whole Foods one day when I was feeling lazy. Oddly, I have all the seasonings in it already taking up space in the cabinet, but…whatever. I put said asparagus in the oven on maybe 300 and nearly forgot about it.

Distraction the Second: Bread.

You can make your own or you can buy a baguette. Or you can skip the bread. Hubby wanted bread, so I hacked up a handful of the basil leaves (not the ones in the list above) and put them in one bowl with some garlic powder and olive oil. (Yes, I know it should have been fresh. I have no idea where the bulb went. Blame the cats.) In another bowl, I put some more garlic powder, a crapton of parsley, and a little rosemary in more olive oil.

Distraction the Third: Mushrooms

I washed them and cut them.

I threw the soaked and drained cashews in the food processor with about a half-cup of water and a half-cup of almond milk (all water would work, too) and about a half-cup of nutritional yeast, some more garlic powder, and the five basil leaves. Now, the basil leaves make the cashew cream very, um, green, obviously. That’s on you if you want to add them or not. I just happened to have a LOT of basil handy.

I added the cashew cream, the other quarter-cup of nutritional yeasts, red pepper, oregano, olive oil, and probably more garlic powder to the red sauce and turned up the heat a little. Then, I split the sauce in two because the husband hates mushrooms. One pot got all the mushrooms and a lid.

Clearly, there’s no mention of pasta except in the title because I assume you can choose your own pasta and follow the boiling instructions. I used fettuccine. You could use penne or linguine or fafalle or I suppose even alphabets if you’re into that sort of thing, though the sauce might be a bit heavy for that.

While the mushrooms cooked down and the other one got creamier, I spooned some of the olive oil and herb mixtures on sliced bread and popped them in the oven. Then I remembered I had a tomato I needed to eat, so I sliced that up and added it to the basil-topped bread while it was in the oven.

I served the pasta with the plain sauce on it in a big bowl and left the mushroom version off in its own bowl, but I’m glad I made the mushroom version, too because yum.

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