When spring hits, this Penne Primavera with Avocado Cashew Cream is my go-to pasta dish. It's light, refreshing, and full of delicious vegetables!
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 being prepared since the sauce may begin to turn brown if made in advance. Use gluten-free pasta to make this dish gluten-free.
Here are more hearty vegan pasta recipes.
How to Make Penne Primavera with Avocado Cashew Cream
- Cook the penne pasta until tender.
- Before pasta is finished, add broccoli, carrots, zucchini.
- Drain water and return veggies and pasta to pot.
- Process cashews, garlic, and broth in food processor.
- Add remaining ingredients and blend.
- Adjust consistency and seasonings.
- Add sauce to pasta, add garnishes, and serve.
Full directions for how to make Penne Primavera with Avacado Cashew Cream are in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Penne Primavera with Avocado Cashew Cream FAQs
Can I use a different sauce?
You can totally use a different sauce for this pasta dish. Whatever kind of marinara, pesto, alfredo, or other sauce you prefer could easily be swapped out with the avocado cashew cream.
How should I store leftover pasta?
You can store your leftover pasta in an airtight container in the fridge. If you've already mixed in the sauce, you can store your pasta with the sauce. But if you haven't mixed the pasta and sauce together, you can store the sauce and pasta separately until you're ready to eat this dish again.
Penne Primavera with Avocado Cashew Cream
- 14 oz penne pasta
- 1 ½ cups small broccoli florets
- 1 small carrot thinly sliced
- 1 small zucchini or yellow squash, cut into ¼-inch dice
- ½ cup raw cashews soaked overnight and drained
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 cup vegetable broth or water, hot
- 2 ripe Hass avocados halved and pitted
- 2 scallions chopped
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp salt
- ground black pepper
- plain unsweetened almond milk if needed
- 1 cup grape tomatoes halved lengthwise
- ⅓ cup fresh basil leaves or parsley, chopped
- 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, then 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 a bit more almond milk. For a thicker sauce, add additional avocado. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.
- Add the sauce to the pot containing the cooked pasta and vegetables. Add the tomatoes and chopped basil and toss gently to combine.
- Serve pasta dish immediately, garnished with the whole basil leaves.
From Nut Butter Universe ©2013 Robin Robertson. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press. Photo by Lori Maffei.
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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.
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!
Will the sauce freeze well?
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.
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).
Thanks so much for the tips, Steven! They're especially appreciated by this avocado fan (myself, that is).