Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Vegan Alfredo sauce, two ways

As I was going through my list of recipes to try not too long ago, I realized that I had three different recipes for vegan Alfredo sauce. I decided to try them and compare. I actually only tried two, because the third one called for coconut milk. I’m all for coconut milk in savory dishes when we’re talking about something like a curry, but it’s not a taste I want in my Alfredo… So I was down to two recipes, and while they’re very different, I’ll be keeping both of them. I've used the "nut-free/sans noix" tag on this post because the first recipe is nut-free, though the second recipe relies mostly on nuts. The recipes below are just for sauce; serve it with cooked pasta (I always make 16 oz. to have leftovers) and add things like seitan, chicken, mushrooms or peas if you wish. I like topping mine with freshly ground black pepper.

The first is from Vegan Dad. It was very easy to do, and the Engineer and I both found it really good. The only thing I would change is that next time, I’d add nutritional yeast, so I’m adding that below.

½ cup margarine
2 cups plain soymilk
1 package extra firm silken tofu
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. nutmeg
2 Tbsp. white wine
2-3 Tbsp. arrowroot powder

Blend all ingredients except arrowroot powder in a food processor until creamy and smooth. Heat in a saucepan over med-low heat until just about bubbling.

Remove some of the sauce and mix with 2 Tbsp. of the arrowroot, then add back to the saucepan. Heat, but don't boil. If sauce is too thin, add the remaining tablespoon (or more, but this wasn’t necessary for me). Whisk smooth and serve with pasta.

The second recipe is from Munchin with Munchkin. It gave me the opportunity to use my Vitamix for something I’d been meaning to try for a long time: cashew cream, where you mix cashews and water to get a liquid consistency. This isn’t something that my food processor could do, but the Vitamix was fabulous at it and I was thrilled with the results. It was SO creamy and thick! It’s a great cream substitute, and I look forward to cooking and baking with it some more. In this case, it was basically the perfect consistency for the Alfredo sauce. The Engineer concurs; this dish wasn’t missing anything.

For the cashew cream
2 cups raw cashews

Place cashews in a fine colander or sieve and rinse under cold water for one minute. Transfer cashews to a sealable container and add just enough water to cover the nuts completely, approximately 2 ½ – 3 cups. Refrigerate overnight.

Strain cashews and rinse under cold water in a sieve. Transfer the cashews to the bowl of a (powerful) food processor and add enough water to cover the cashews by one inch. Process for a minimum of 5 minutes until the liquid is smooth and creamy. (My food processor wouldn’t have done nearly as good a job as my Vitamix blender, though I needed much less than 5 minutes with the latter.) Depending on the quality of your food processor, you may need to strain the cashew cream through a fine sieve lined with cheese cloth to remove any sediment from the liquid. (Again, not with the Vitammix.)

Store in the refrigerator for up to four days or in the freezer for up to three months. Before using, pulse it through a food processor or blender to ensure it is well mixed. You will have a nit too much for the recipe below.

For the Alfredo sauce
2Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. dry white wine
1 leek
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 ½ cups cashew cream
1 tsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes (or Korean pepper)
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot heat olive oil over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add leeks and shallots. Sauté until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Drizzle the mixture with white wine and cook for about one minute.

Slowly whisk the cashew cream into the pot, stirring well to combine. Add lemon juice, onion powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and nutmeg and stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a slow boil, stirring consistently until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Add nutritional yeast and salt and pepper to taste. (Be generous with the salt, as the cashew cream is bland.)

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