Sometimes, when you get too excited about fall, you bake a bunch of marvelous things, and forget that you haven’t made dinner. There you stand surrounded by a halo of powdered sugar, knowing another pastry for a meal is probably not the best idea. Fear not! I’ve got you covered.
Covered is cheesy creamy goodness. Oh, yes.
This baby is perfect for these early fall days, when you’re craving something rich and reminiscent of the holidays, but know in your heart of hearts that it’s too warm really, to be wearing scarves and and too early really, to jump head first into pumpkin spice season. This dish is hearty yet surprisingly light, made entirely without oil.
….without oil?! How do you make alfredo without oil?! Blasphemy.
Well, I said “no oil,” not “no fat”.
Don’t misunderstand. Not all fats are bad. Your body runs on fat. It needs a delicate balance of protein, carbohydrates, AND fat to run efficiently. We usually, however, try to eliminate one or the other in an effort to lose weight or maintain a certain level of health. Or, we tend to be indiscriminate about what kinds of fats we should or shouldn’t be consuming.
This dish contains whole food fats, or naturally-occurring fats inherent in each ingredient. Here, the cashews provide the main source of fats, but also provide essential vitamins and minerals our body needs to function optimally. (If you are allergic to nuts, please do not attempt to make this recipe!)
So go ahead and give this one a try. Bonus tip: You can make the sauce ahead of time and freeze it in an ice cube tray or muffin tray to create little pucks that you can reheat whenever you need to toss a quick meal together.
- 1/4 cup shallot, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cup loosely packed assorted mushrooms
- 3 tbsp marsala wine
- 2 tbsp fresh chives, minced
- sea salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Bring a large stainless steel pan to medium heat.
- Once hot, add the shallots and cook until they begin to stick.
- Add the garlic and mushrooms. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mushrooms also begin to stick. Be careful not to let them burn.
- Add wine and deglaze the pan by scraping the bottom of the pan with the wooden spoon, swirling the contents around.
- Sauté until the mushrooms have released their liquid and the pan is almost dry–about 4-6 minutes. Before serving, gently stir in the chives, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
- 2 cups raw cashews
- 4 to 6 cups warm water
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup dry white wine*
- 2 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast**
- 1 tbsp onion granules
- pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- pinch of white pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt (optional)
- In a medium bowl, soak the rinsed cashews in clean water overnight (or a minimum of 4 hours). Strain, reserving the cashews and discarding the liquid.
- Heat the pan to medium to high heat. Add the onions to the dry pan and continue to stir well until the onions begin to turn translucent and stick. Try to keep the onions from browning, adding a little bit of the stock while moving the onions around constantly. This should take 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for a moment until fragrant. Remove from heat.
- Transfer the cooked onions and garlic into the blender.
- Add the cashews, the remaining vegetable stock, white wine, garlic, nutritional yeast, onion granules, nutmeg, white pepper and salt (if using) to the blender. Blend on high speed until smooth. Add more liquid if you choose to have a thinner consistency. The sauce will thicken when heated. Avoid heating for too long a period or the sauce will loose its silky consistency.
- *If you prefer, you may omit the wine. The white wine gives this sauce it's distinct traditional flavor. (All alfredo and bechamel sauces use white wine.) Keep in mind that when the sauce heats through (as when used in other dishes) the alcohol in the wine will burn off and evaporate, leaving absolutely no alcohol content in the dish.
- **Nutritional yeast is found in a small bottle in the spice section of most grocery stores (check the very top or very bottom shelf) or in the bulk section of any health food store for a more economical price. It has a distinct cheddar cheese flavor and is nearly entirely composed of vitamin B12 - a nutrient most people are deficient in. I love sprinkling this on top of any dish I want to give a cheesy flavor too - tofu scrambles, enchiladas, tacos, pastas, and even popcorn.