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I have been on a major pasta kick.
I don’t know why, but more often than not lately, my answer to “Hmm, what do I want to eat?” or “What sounds good?” is “PASTA!” It’s true that it’s a longtime favorite food of mine, but I have no idea what’s revived this insatiable pasta lust in me this summer in particular. I love it with marinara sauce, bolognese sauce, or all manner of homemade cream sauces, such as this nut-based beauty.
This sauce is similar (but not identical) to the pecan cream sauce on page 142 of my first cookbook, Practically Raw. I absolutely adore that original version, especially ladled over tender, fresh zucchini noodles, but I wanted to make it into a no-advance-prep-necessary 30-minute meal (in other words, get rid of the need to soak the nuts ahead of time) and serve it over regular pasta. That’s how this dish was born.
You can make the sauce while you boil the noodles (since I have a trick for quick-soaking the nuts!), and before you know it, you’ll be tucking into a bowl of this rich, comforting, unique “alfredo” pasta and savoring every forkful.
To make it a meal, serve alongside steamed broccoli or green beans.
- 8 oz. dry whole-grain rotini (gluten-free if desired)
- Sea salt, for the pasta water
- 1/2 cup pecans (raw or roasted)
- 1/4 cup cashews (raw or roasted)
- 3/4 cup unsweetened milk of choice
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- Fresh cracked pepper, for serving (optional)
- Set a large pot of water to boil.
- Meanwhile, in a teakettle (or in a glass measuring cup in the microwave), heat about 2 cups of water just to boiling. Place the pecans and cashews in a bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Set aside for 10 minutes or so as the large pot of water comes to a boil.
- When the pot of water comes to a boil, salt it generously with sea salt and add the rotini. Cook according to package directions, stirring occasionally, until al dente.
- Meanwhile, make the pecan cream sauce. Drain the hot water off the nuts and transfer them to a high-speed blender. Add all other ingredients. Blend until completely smooth. Taste for seasoning and add a dash more salt, if desired.
- When the pasta is done cooking, drain it and divide it between serving bowls. Ladle a scoop of the pecan cream sauce over each serving of noodles. Garnish with freshly cracked black pepper and serve immediately.
- You can use any other pasta shape you like in place of the rotini.
- If you'd like to keep the pecan cream sauce oil-free, you can replace the oil with 1 tablespoon water or additional milk; however, the texture is simply amazing with the oil in there to emulsify it, so I highly recommend leaving it in!
- If you'd prefer to keep the sauce completely raw, use raw (not roasted) nuts, and soak them in cold water ahead of time for 2 to 4 hours.
- This sauce is just as delicious with walnuts in place of the pecans.
- If you have some already-roasted garlic on hand, that'd be amazing in this sauce!