I like pureeing raw zucchini, cooking the puree, and using it as a milk substitute in baked goods. Then not long ago, it dawned on me that this creamy zucchini "milk" could be used in place of milk in other things - like creamy soups, smoothies, or sauces. The idea for an alfredo-style cream sauce was born. I've been kicking around that concept for awhile, and finally had the chance to give it a shot last weekend when I was home visiting my family. The secret ingredient is soaked cashews, which add a rich flavor and velvety texture to our perennial garden favorite. Soaked and blended cashew cream does something magical when you cook it: it thickens, just like dairy does. Perfect for making thick sauces.
Creamy and rich, my zucchini-cashew "alfredo" sauce was the perfect finish to al dente brown rice spaghetti and an abundance of fresh farmer's market summer vegetables and garden herbs. The sauce had a great thick texture, creamy white color, and an awesome flavor, and was a breeze to make. It totally passed the test with my parents, who both went in for second helpings. My mom enjoyed it as is, but my dad, a true Wisconsite, added a bit of parmesan cheese to his bowl. What can I say, the man loves his cheese.
SUMMER SPAGHETTI WITH ZUCCHINI-CASHEW "ALFREDO" CREAM SAUCE (gluten free, vegan, dairy free, soy free)
8 oz Tinkyada brown rice spaghetti (or other tolerated pasta)
Prepare alfredo sauce according to directions below.
Prepare vegetables. Thinly slice onion. Remove rib from chard, and slice on diagonal into 1/2" slices. Cut the leaves in half lengthwise, stack, roll, then thinly slice across the roll to julienne. Quarter the fennel bulb, then slice. Slice the carrots into 1/4" diagonal slices. Slice the zucchini into 1/4" half moons. Thinly slice basil leaves.
Cook spaghetti according to directions on packaging, then rinse well with cool water.While spaghetti is cooking, heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onions, and saute a few minutes, then add chard ribs and carrots, and saute a few more minutes. Then add zucchini, and saute a few more minutes. When vegetables are nearly done, add chard leaves and a little water, cover, and steam until tender.
Add cooked pasta to saucepan with vegetables. Then add warm alfredo sauce and basil leaves, and stir to mix over low heat. Transfer to serving bowl(s) and garnish as desired. Enjoy!
- Switch out your greens: use spinach, kale, or other greens in place of Swiss chard
- Try using other combinations of vegetables: green, red, purple, or yellow peppers, eggplant, mushrooms, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, squash, pumpkin, shallots...
- Garnish with chopped olives, capers
- Season with other herbs, like dill, chives, or rosemary
ZUCCHINI-CASHEW "ALFREDO" CREAM SAUCE (gluten free, vegan, dairy free, soy free)
1 large zucchini, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 3 cups chopped)
Soak the cashews in fresh water for 2 hours. Drain and rinse, and place in blender.
Peel and chop the zucchini, and add to blender with garlic and 1 c of water. Puree until totally smooth and creamy. Transfer to saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until cooked through and thickened.
Right before serving, take out about 1/2 c of the sauce and stir in miso paste until evenly mixed. Add miso sauce back to saucepan and stir until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and keep warm on lowest heat until ready to serve.
- Serve over pasta, grains, vegetables, or beans, use in casseroles or pot pies in place of "cream of whatever" soup, or use as a fondue style dip
- use broth or stock instead of water for richer flavor
- Béchamel-style sauce: omit garlic and add a pinch of nutmeg (start with 1/4 tsp)
- Rich and creamy red sauce: puree in roasted red peppers or marinated sun-dried tomatoes
- Wine sauce: try using a bit of white wine instead of water when blending
- Creamy green goddess sauce: puree in greens and herbs
- Mushroom sauce: add sauteed mushrooms to sauce, pureeing half of them and adding the other half to the saucepan
- Onion sauce: add caramelized onions to blender and puree
- Herb sauce: add a variety of fresh herbs
- Vegetable sauce: for a chunky vegetable cream sauce, add finely chopped cooked vegetables to saucepan and cook with sauce - broccoli would be delicious!
- Here's a total change of pace: what about omitting the garlic, adding vanilla, cocoa/carob, and a little sweetener of choice? It would be like a thick chocolate sauce. You could even use hot coffee or a grain-coffee substitute instead of water for a mocha effect. I NEED TO TRY THIS!