Cashew Nut Carbonara
As simple as its namesake, this dish was the first time I ever experimented with blending cashews. I used to think you needed a fancy-ass food processor to make food like this but my £15 whiz stick has been doing the trick, no sweat.
My go-to home-from-work-late pasta, you can have it in your belly in as long as it takes to boil the pasta.
Ingredients (4-6 portions)
Enough pasta for everyone (spaghetti, fettuccini, whatever you like)
2-4 cloves of garlic (Gina demands four; if I'm cooking for Dad it's two)
One stock standard white onion, diced
Two big hand-fills of mushrooms, sliced (white or brown button)
250g of cashew nuts (you can also use a combo here, sometimes we add pistachios or almonds to mix it up)
Salt & pepper
Not required but help make it 'pop' - nutritional yeast (sounds weird but is the bomb) and lemon juice
Optional extras - cherry tomatoes, spinach, peas, tofu bacon, parsley - be creative
Put the nuts in a bowl/jug/whatever and cover them with warm water. Leave them to hang out while you're cooking. There is no minimum time here but the longer you leave them soaking, the creamier you can get the sauce.
Put the pasta on to cook. I normally boil the jug to speed things up and then put it on the stove top. Make sure the water is as salty as the sea.
Get a nice big fry pan or saucepan on to heat with a glug of oil. Add the onions and salt. (You can actually cook onions without oil as the salt sweats liquid from them but all our pans are useless.)
Cook the onions for 5 or so minutes until they start to smell yum and get a bit golden then throw in the garlic and mushies (remember to save one clove of garlic for the sauce). Depending on your mushrooms you may get lots of water here - leave it be as it tastes delightful and will all mix in at the end.
While these are cooking away get your nuts into a blending receptacle (what a turn of phrase). Add about an inch of water, a generous pour of olive oil and one clove of garlic. Don't worry about measurements here you can kinda play it by ear/eye (?!).
Blend! You are trying to get a creamy sauce that is about the consistency of melted ice cream or sunblock (yum). The water helps get everything blending but it's better to add it bit by bit rather than have too much. If you have it, add a couple of teaspoons of nutritional yeast and a squeeze of lemon juice too.
Give the sauce a taste and see if you need to add more of anything: salt, pepper, garlic, lemon, nutritional yeast.
Add the sauce to the mushrooms and mix it all together (this is where the big frypan comes in handy). Give it another taste and add as needed.
By now the pasta will be almost done, so get it off the stove, drain it and mix it with a healthy dose of olive oil. Add it to the sauce and mix it all around. This is where you can add the chopped cherry tomatoes, fresh baby spinach or whatever else you feel like!