Invented in Italy and popularized in America, fettuccine alfredo is traditionally nothing more than a simple, creamy coating on pasta. It’s true comfort food – starchy noodles smothered in parmesan, butter and cream, sometimes with herbs tossed in. But it’s also a calorie bomb. This lightened up version keeps the texture, but goes vegan – including wholesome nuts, garlic and miso – with wonderful, bright asparagus added!
Asparagus is a spring crop and there is no better time to enjoy this edible flower. Look for tender, slim stalks with a vibrant green color. Sometimes you can find white or purple asparagus varieties, but the green is most common and delicious with this alfredo sauce. To prepare asparagus, snap the stalk where it naturally bends – this will assure it doesn’t have a woody texture. Some chefs recommend peeling the stalks, however, if you’re getting market-fresh, spring asparagus, it’s not normally necessary because it’s not chewy, like off-season asparagus can be.
Asparagus with Alfredo
1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tsp. onion powder
1 Tbl. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
2 Tbl. white miso (we used Westbrae Naturals)
2 Tbl. vegan margarine (we used Earth Balance)
1 cup unsweetened, plain almond milk (we used Silk)
pinch ground nutmeg
2 tsp. arrowroot powder
8 oz. box of your favorite fettuccine
1 bunch of fresh asparagus
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely minced
Before beginning the recipe, soak cashews in water for two to eight hours. This will make them smooth and creamy in the recipe. Drain water before using in alfredo sauce.
In the bowl of a food processor or high-power blender, add soaked and drained cashews, garlic clove, onion powder, lemon juice, salt and pepper, miso, margarine, almond milk, nutmeg and arrowroot powder. Process ingredients until smooth, scraping the sides down several times to assure all items are incorporated. Finished sauce should be smooth and sticky.
Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain noodles and put back into cooking pot. Add alfredo sauce and combine with noodles over low heat, stirring frequently. Alfredo sauce will coat pasta and thicken slightly. Keep warm and set aside.
Snap bottoms of asparagus stalks and rinse before cooking. Asparagus can be steamed, grilled or pan-seared slightly for this meal. Whichever way you choose to warm it, be sure not to over-cook the asparagus. Overcooked asparagus get mushy, wilted and loses it’s lovely green color. It usually is ready in two to four minutes. Season as desired with salt/pepper.
Plate the fettuccine alfredo with stalks of asparagus; sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley. Serves two large portions or four smaller portions. This is a great meal for guests or kids. Cashews mimic the texture of parm so well, no will will even know it’s not really cheese! Goes well with a side salad and crisp Chardonnay, too.
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