Penne Primavera with Avocado Cashew Cream

Penne Primavera

I like to use penne pasta in this recipe, but any bite-sized pasta will work well. This dish is best if eaten immediately after prepared since the sauce may begin to turn brown if made in advance. Use gluten-free pasta to make this gluten-free. From Nut Butter Universeby Robin Robertson. ©2013 Robin Robertson. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press. Photo by Lori Maffei.

Serves: 4

  • 12 to 16 ounces penne pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups small broccoli florets
  • 1 small carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 small zucchini or yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup hot vegetable broth or water, or more if needed
  • 1 to 2 ripe Hass avocados, halved and pitted
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Plain unsweetened almond milk, if needed
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves or parsley
  • Whole fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Cook the penne in a large pot of salted boiling water, stirring occasionally, until it is tender, about 10 minutes. About 5 minutes before the pasta is cooked, add the broccoli and carrots. About 2 minutes before the pasta is cooked, add the zucchini. Drain the cooked pasta and vegetables well and return to the pot.

While the pasta is cooking, combine the drained cashews, garlic, and broth in a high-speed blender or food processor. Process until smooth and well blended. Peel and pit the avocado and add it to the food processor along with the scallions, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Process until smooth and creamy. For a thinner sauce, add some almond milk, if needed. For a thicker sauce, add additional avocado. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed.

Add the sauce to the pot containing the drained cooked pasta and vegetables. Add the tomatoes and chopped basil and toss gently to combine. Serve immediately, garnished with the whole basil leaves.

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6 Responses to “Penne Primavera with Avocado Cashew Cream”

  1. Ruchama says:

    I’m wondering if I could adapt this for use at a Shabbat lunch. Since I can’t cook or use electric appliances, I’d make the cream without the avocado and cook the pasta and vegetables ahead of time. I would mash up the avocado as for guacamole and add it to the cream by hand, then pour over the cooled vegetable/pasta mixture.
    I know it would be chunkier than machine made avocado sauce, but I think it would be tasty, and of course, I’d avoid the problem of having the sauce turn black if kept over night.

  2. Nava says:

    I can’t see how that wouldn’t work, Ruchama. Let us know how it turns out. Sorry for the delayed response; I didn’t see this!

  3. Julie says:

    Will the sauce freeze well?

  4. Nava says:

    Julie, my guess is that this avocado based sauce might turn brown if frozen, though I couldn’t swear to it. Anything avocado-based is best eaten at once.

  5. Steven J. Owens says:

    You can keep the avocado from browning.

    Put the peeled avocado in a ziplock of water and citrus juice – I usually use lemon juice concentrate because it’s cheap and easily available. Squeeze all the air out of the ziplock. The juice and the water will keep the oxygen away.

    Or, chop up a large onion, put it at bottom of a small tupperware container, put the peeled avocado on top, seal the lid shut.

    Both work. I learned the onion approach recently. I feel like it doesn’t quite work as well as the lemon juice, but on the up side it’s less sloppy (no spilling lemon water) and the avocado doesn’t get mushy (which sometimes happens with the lemon water).

  6. Nava says:

    Thanks so much for the tips, Steven! They’re especially appreciated by this avocado fan (myself, that is).

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