Meatless Monday – Cajun Pasta

I cook most nights of the week but during spring break I wanted a, ahem, break. Tween and I mostly ate easy foods – big salads, bean dip that became burritos and nachos, and I made a big pot of Cajun Pasta that lasted through several meals. Which gave us more time to rest, read, relax (rewind, repeat)!

The first time I made this recipe on a total whim. A friend posted a meat-and-dairy heavy recipe on Facebook. The flavor combinations sounded tasty; I had similar meat- and dairy-free ingredients on hand; and so I went for it.

As I write this, I wonder if meat eaters might just undo all my healthy-eating hacks. But really, friends, there’s no need. This recipe is easy and healthy and carnivore-friendly as is. Even my brother-in-law, a committed carnivore and picky eater, ate a huge bowl. I accept that as a big pat on the back.

There’s just one trick: you need cashew cream. But it’s not a hard trick, and there is more than one way to go about it. Simple Cashew Cream has fewer ingredients and is more like cream for recipes that call for heavy cream. Cheezy Cashew Cream contains even more veggie goodness, which means it has more ingredients and takes just a few more minutes, but it also has a similar-to-nacho cheese look and taste. Either will work in the Cajun Pasta.

Note: Cashews get creamier when soaked, and both these recipes are going for creamy texture. I never remember to soak cashews overnight. I’m just not that good at planning ahead. If you’re a non-planner like me, put the cashews in boiling hot water in a covered container for 30+ minutes, the longer the better.

Simple Cashew Cream

1 1/2 c cashews
2 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 c water (or more for desired consistency)
salt/pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a food processor or blender. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt/pepper as desired. Consistency should be like heavy cream.

Cheezy Cashew Cream

2 Yukon Gold potatoes or 1 russet, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/4 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 c raw cashews
1/4 c non-dairy milk
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1 pinch each cayenne pepper and paprika
salt to taste

Bring a pot of water to boil and add chopped potatoes, carrots, and onion. Boil about 8-10 minutes until veggies are soft. Use a slotted spoon to transfer veggies to a blender or food processor and add remaining ingredients. Add 3/4 c of cooking water and blend until smooth.

Cashew Cream can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.veggiescajun pasta

And now, the recipe you came looking for:

Cajun Pasta
Serves 4-6

9oz Beyond Meat Southwest Chicken Strips
2 Field Roast sausage links (I used 1 Italian and 1 Smoked Apple Sage)
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ yellow onion, sliced
2 bell peppers, sliced (I used red & yellow baby peppers)
3 c veggies (mushrooms, carrot, celery, zucchini – your choice)
16 oz whole wheat pasta (I used rotini)
5 c veggie broth (Better Than Bouillon is my fav!)
1 ½ c cashew cream

Cut chicken (frozen = okay) into bite-sized pieces and add to stock pot. Slice sausages in half length-wise and then dice and add to pot. Sprinkle with Cajun seasoning and cook over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes.

Add garlic, onion, bell peppers, and other veggies and cook another 3-5 minutes. Add dry pasta to the pot. Pour in veggie broth and stir to combine. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add cashew cream. Taste and add salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning as desired.

 

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