To start, a note on nuts: while nuts aren’t low in calories, they have loads of health benefits. Especially cashews (which do happen to be lower in fat than most other nuts) – they are full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, including oleic acids, and essential nutrients like copper, manganese, tryptophan, magnesium and phosphorus. It’s a fallacy that foods, like nuts, that are high in fat make you fat. Moderate consumption of nuts is actually great for your body in many ways.
I however am of the “keep the nuts out of my baked goods” camp. I enjoy eating a small handful of nuts once in a while, and I love nut butters. But aside from a making cashew-based vegan strawberry rhubarb cheesecake and homemade nut butters, I haven’t cooked extensively with nuts in non-traditional ways. Until last week, I hadn’t made any attempts at transforming them into a palatable replacement for heavy cream and other similar dairy ingredients in recipes. I think that’s probably because even when I ate loads of dairy, I never really craved heavy foods laden with it – like rich, creamy sauces – so it would be relatively unusual that the mood would strike now.
But, I was blown away by how easily and deliciously cashews could be made into a vegan cheesecake and have tasted other wonderful things of that nature in restaurants and bakeries – so that combined with a blame on Pinterest (really… I could waste so much time looking at food photos on there, among other things!), I decided I wanted to try and make a savory tomato cream sauce from cashews.
I basically followed Oh She Glows’ recipe for this vegan tomato basil cream sauce (and her’s was adapted from Vegan Yum Yum), except I added a bit more of each ingredient, as well as a few shakes of red pepper flakes for some heat. I also used a combination of tomatoes on the vine and sugar plum grape tomatoes (ripe, flavorful tomatoes are really key). The sauce made enough to generously cover a pound of pasta.
Let me tell you – this is GOOD.
For the pasta, I cooked organic spinach linguini to al dente doneness – though any pasta (wheat or gluten-free) would work great with this sauce. And, to get some more veggies in the mix, I sauteed a bag of baby spinach (must buy organic when it comes to spinach) in about 2 tsp of olive oil, two cloves of chopped garlic and lots of black pepper, and served the pasta over that.
It’s an easy dish that comes together quite quickly, and I was surprised at how good it is. If you don’t have a nut allergy and want the sweet-savoriness of a tomato cream sauce without the dairy, this is a fabulous way to go!