Sunday, June 1, 2014

creamy (dairy free!) pasta primavera - recipe for a good cause

At one point when I was considering a transition to all out vegetarianism, and even considering going vegan (neither of which I have done, although I do attempt to follow a primarily plant-based diet), I wondered about how to replace those comfort food dishes which I've loved in the past - you know the ones I mean - those that involve a creamy, buttery, cheesy sauce, usually served over pasta.  How on earth would it be possible to duplicate such a sauce without using, well, cream, butter, and/or cheese?

Much to my surprise, I discovered that the secret ingredient to achieving a dairy-free, vegan pasta sauce is NUTS!!  Yep, those darn NUTS can be used for just about everything... :)

More specifically, for cream sauces, the nut of choice is cashews.  Their already creamy consistency make them a natural substitute when creating a cream sauce, and when blended in combination with a few other key ingredients such as nutritional yeast (which you can buy at Bulk Barn in Canada), you'll be pleasantly surprised, like me, just how delicious your dairy free cream sauces can be.  

Recently, as a graduate of Meghan Telpner's Culinary Nutrition Expert program, I was approached to develop a main dish recipe for an upcoming charity cookbook, the proceeds of which will go towards a very worthy cause - Organics 4 Orphans.  The one stipulation in creating this recipe was to incorporate an ingredient that is completely new to me - Moringa leaf powder.  I was surprised to learn that Moringa Oleifera, commonly referred to as Moringa, is the "most nutrient rich plant known to science"!   Among the many amazing things I learned about dried Moringa, it contains, pound for pound:

  • 15 X the potassium found in bananas
  • 25 X the iron found in spinach
  • 17 X the calcium found in milk
  • 7 X the vitamin C found in oranges
  • 10 X the vitamin A found in carrots

Altogether, there are 92+ nutrients are found in the Moringa tree - if this has piqued your interest, you can find ALL the amazing details about this miracle leaf here

Wow, right?  And all you need to do is throw a teaspoon or two of this greens powder in your daily smoothie - or in my case, in a cream sauce for pasta.  

I'll let you know when the cookbook will be available for sale (I would assume it will be in e-book form),  but in the meantime, this recipe may give you a little sneak peek at one of the many ways you can sneak this nutritional powerhouse into your every day meals! 

I didn't have to experiment too long and hard to achieve what I believe to be an absolutely delicious creamy pasta primavera - and when you add the deliciousness that is currently-in-season asparagus, here's a healthful and delicious evening meal that will have you questioning whether or not you'll ever want to make cream sauce the traditional way again... 


1 c. cashews (soaked 4 hours or overnight)
1 c. water
2/3 c. nutritional yeast
1 tbsp. chia seeds (to thicken)
1 lemon, juiced
2 small garlic cloves
1-1/2 tsp. moringa leaf powder
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
Pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp. Italian parsley
3 c. dry pasta of choice (I used gluten-free)
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
1 c. shitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced large
2 c. fresh asparagus, tips only
1-2 green onions, thinly sliced


Place first nine ingredients in a high speed blender; blend on high until smooth and creamy.

Place Italian parsley in blender with sauce, blend in short pulses on lowest speed only until roughly chopped.

Place sauce in small covered saucepan to warm over low heat.

Boil pasta according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, prepare vegetables as outlined above.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat.

Add chopped vegetables to skillet (reserve green onion), sauté until fork tender, about 10 minutes.  (Cover skillet for last 2-3 minutes to steam vegetables to further soften if preferable):


Drain pasta; transfer to mixing/serving bowl. 

Cover pasta with sautéed vegetables and sauce, toss to coat. 

Garnish with green onion, toss to coat if preferred. 

Divide between 2-4 people. 


Obviously, it isn't 100% necessary to add Moringa to the recipe; however, as mentioned above, this is a wonderful way to give an already nutritious meal an added kick of SUPER nutrition!  If you're interested in trying this superfood for yourself AND purchasing with a purpose (profits from the sale of Moringa powder go to support orphans and their communities through Organics 4 Orphans) just click the link provided earlier in the post above.  You'll be doing yourself and others a lovely favour. :)

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