Creamy Vegan Pasta con Broccoli with Mushrooms
My husband loves creamy alfredo sauces. He will eat my marinara sauces (my favorite) without complaints because he knows it's healthier. But every now and then I like to splurge and make pasta con broccoli. Before adopting a mostly plant-based diet, I did alfredo totally old school--butter, heavy cream and lots of fresh parmesan.
But now, saving calories is a top priority as well as keeping it animal free. I've tried a few different versions of vegan alfredo sauce that I've found online, but this one, which is all my own, is my (and my husband's) favorite so far. And I even managed to sneak in some extra veggies by running some spinach and kale through my food processor and tossing it in!
Something that you have to learn to accept when you go plant-based is that getting the textures and degrees of richness with certain things is a challenge. I feel like this recipe is both rich and creamy and also has that lovely tangy quality I love in a good alfredo sauce. Does it taste like the real thing? Of course not. But it's darn close and delicious! I hope you enjoy it. As always, this is a big recipe. It feeds us for two nights and still leaves plenty for lunch on the third day for any of us who want it. The two big wins here are that this dish is totally animal-free and while traditional pasta con broccoli comes in at around 500 calories per serving, this recipe is right around 225 calories for a filling 2-cup serving!
Creamy Vegan Pasta con Broccoli with Mushroom Prep/Cook Time: 30 minutes Serves: 4-10 depending on serving size
2 cups baby spinach
2 cups torn kale
1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
4-6 large garlic cloves, minced, to taste (I use 6)
8 ounces white button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
4 cups broccoli florets
1 tbs Italian seasoning
1 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
1 batch cashew cream
1/2 cup vegan parmesan cheese (I use Follow Your Heart)
2 tbs nutritional yeast
2 tbs Earth Balance Buttery Spread (totally optiona but I think it adds at to the richness)
1 pound cooked pasta (I used a brown rice and quinoa rigatoni)
2-3 ladels of reserved pasta cooking water
Juice from one lemon
1. Process the spinach and kale in a food processor until very fine. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the spinach and kale and saute' for 2-3 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and garlic and saute until mushrooms are dark, about 4-5 minutes. Meanwhile, bring water to boil in large pan and add the pasta. Cook according to directions.
2. Add the broccoli florets and continue cooking for an additional 4-5 minutes. We like the broccoli to still be pretty crunchy. Cook for longer if you like it more tender. Add the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and stir well.
3. Add the cashew cream, vegan parmesan and nutritional yeast and stir until the veggies are well coated. Add the Earth Balance, if using and stir until it's melted and well-incorporated. Lower the heat. Add 2-3 ladels of the water the pasta was cooked in. This does two things at the same time--it thins the sauce so that it will coat all the pasta and it also gives it the ability to adhere to the pasta. Once the sauce is the consistency you want, turn off off the heat and drain the pasta. Toss the sauce with the pasta and serve.
Since this is not made with real butter and heavy cream, the sauce will not separate the way traditional cream sauces do. So this is great reheated. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to four days.