Happy Earth Day! In honor of this important celebration, I created an indulgent, yet healthy and sustainable vegan pasta primavera. This creamy dish packs in a surprising wallop of all-natural nutrients thanks to the use of seasonal vegetables, raw cashews, wholesome pasta, and unique protein-packed almond milk.
What makes this vegan pasta primavera so special? Have you got a minute or two?
Nutrition: When made as is, this vegan pasta primavera contains approximately 25 grams of protein per serving! It’s virtually sugar-free – the cashews, peas, and carrots add small amounts of naturally-occurring sugars – but contains ample amount of fiber. And compared to most cream sauces, the fat is low (approximately 20 grams of “healthy” plant-based fats) – it can be brought down even further if you prefer to use a lighter hand with the olive oil (the recipe will still work well with 1 teaspoon), and thin the sauce with additional almond milk.
Meatless Meal: Let’s face it, even if you aren’t vegan or vegetarian, buying sustainable meat is expensive! Having a protein-rich, nutrient-dense, all-natural meat-free menu item at your beckon call can be a true blessing for your body and your pocketbook.
Sustainable Choices: In days past, if the food came in a carton, bag, or box, it was almost guaranteed to be void of anything good. Fortunately, many manufacturers have upped the ante by sourcing high quality ingredients, opting for minimal processing and preservatives, and going above and beyond to lessen their environmental footprint. For this vegan pasta primavera I chose noodles with just 1 ingredient that is organic and non-GMO verified, and a milk alternative that shouts sustainability. I use So Delicious Dairy Free coconut milk beverage or almond milk because I love the choices that company makes. They carefully source ingredients, focus on water conservation, have a green office program, go above and beyond to get or source certified foods (non-GMO verified, Rainforest Alliance, etc.), and even share their policies in a downloadable Sustainability Report. Oh, and of course it tastes amazing, too…
Seasonal Versatility: The produce you pick can have a huge impact on your environment. I opted for fresh peas and organic carrots because they are right in season and grown locally to my area. Both were produced sustainably and involved very little transit. In the summer, I might switch it up to use fresh cherry tomatoes, herbs, mushrooms, tender greens, and/or zucchini. For fall, broccoli would be my go to, but winter squash would also be an option, and late summer / early fall crops like tomatoes, and eggplant would also go nicely. In winter, this vegan pasta primavera would be a comforting delight with hearty greens (like kale).
Special Diet Notes & Options: Creamy Vegan Pasta Primavera
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian. See above for recipe variations.
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 2 cups So Delicious Dairy Free Unsweetened Almond Plus Protein Almond Milk, plus additional as needed
- 2 to 3 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 6 carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
- 1⅓ cup fresh peas
- 8 ounces pasta (I used lentil-based, gluten-free spirals for extra protein!)
- 1½ tablespoons olive oil
- 4 crushed garlic cloves
- Fresh chopped herbs (basil, tarragon, dill, oregano, etc. - your choice), optional
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
- While the pasta is cooking, steam the carrots for 3 minutes. Add the peas and steam for another 4 to 6 minutes, or until both are tender.
- While the vegetables are cooking, grind the cashews in a spice grinder or food processor. It will turn into a powder and may be begin to clump into a paste.
- Place the cashew meal in your blender with the almond milk, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and onion powder. Puree until smooth.
- Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
- Pour the cashew-almond cream into the pan, through a fine mesh sieve, if desired, to remove any little nut bits remaining. Bring to a low bubble, while constantly whisking until it thickens to your desired consistency, usually 1 to 2 minutes. If it thickens too much, add splashes of almond milk to thin. Season to taste with additional salt (I use about ½ teaspoon more) and lemon juice, if desired.
- Add the cooked pasta and vegetables, and stir to distribute the ingredients.
- If desired, stir in chopped fresh herbs or top with herbs just prior to serving.