This is the easiest and most flavorful vegan Alfredo I’ve ever whipped up, and I couldn’t keep it all to myself. Plus, with beans and cashews as the main ingredients, you get a boost of protein and unparalleled creaminess with no guilt.
If you read my posts, you know I’m all about the beans, baby. I make unreasonable amounts of beans in my slow cooker or pressure cooker and turn them into all kinds of goodies from hummus to ‘tuna’ cakes. Whenever I have leftovers, I puree them into one random sauce or another, but none have been as delicious as this Alfredo. If you find yourself with extra beans after a slow cooker escapade, why not indulge with a little pasta and create a creamy vegan Alfredo to pair with it? I don’t say this lightly, as I know a lot of vegan cream sauces pretty much taste like pureed nuts, but this one is different. It’s rich and seems naughty, but is perfectly healthy and got a seal of approval (in the form of seconds and third helpings) from non vegan friends.
Why White Beans?
Packed with protein, fiber, folate, and iron, what’s not to love? High fiber diets help reduce risks associated with bad cholesterol, which is positive for heart health. Plus, when foods have both fiber and protein, it helps you stay fuller longer so you’re less likely to crave an after dinner snack. I know when I sneak beans into pasta dishes, my husband gets grumpy that he can’t finish his otherwise somehow consumable mountain of pasta. But like … do you really need to eat five pounds of pasta anyway, dear? Help me help you.
I used my pressure cooker to rehyrdrate dried white beans with several cloves of garlic and a dash of salt. I usually cook the entire 16 oz bag of dried beans, with 6 cups of water, 7-10 garlic cloves, and a 1/2 tsp salt. Slow cook this on high for about 6 hours until your beans are fork tender. If you can poke a fork through easily, they’re done cooking. There is nothing worse than half cooked beans though, so don’t be impatient with them here. Again, making this many beans keeps me good to go for a week or two, especially because you can make bean cakes that store really well in the freezer so there’s no pressure to eat them all at once. But you can also cut the recipe in half and use 8 ounces of beans with half the salt, garlic, and water if you don’t need need bean cakes, hummus, dips, and sauces all at once.I can’t imagine how one wouldn’t want to eat beans for breakfast lunch and dinner all day every day, but to each his own. If cooking in the Instant Pot, use the same ingredients, but cook on high for 28 ish minutes.
To cook your cashews, you can Instant pot about 2 cup dry cashews with 4 cups of water for about 5 minutes or you can boil in a saucepan on the stove top for 20 minutes. Salt the water if you like, but not necessary.
Once your beans and cashews are cooked thoroughly, add to a blender or food processor to puree. You can also grab a hand blender and blend in a metal sauce pan if you like, and simply toss your pasta in while it’s hot. Use the water from the bean or cashew pot, as this has tons of nutrients and flavor that you won’t get with fresh water. Mix in your nutritional yeast, extra salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. If you ask me, garlic and onion powder are the two most important spices to keep in your kitchen as they create a depth of flavor to just about anything they touch.
If you’d like to try your hand at the pasta recipe I used here, it was fairly simple. After you’ve made your sauce, set aside. Boil your pasta in salted water according to package directions.
Saute 1/2 cup chopped white onion, with 2-3 diced cloves of garlic and 2 tbsp olive oil or oil of your choice. As these start to caramelize (about 6-7 minutes on medium heat) you can add in 1/2 cup chopped red pepper and 1 cup button mushrooms, diced in half. The mushrooms will start to brown as well, and at this point you can add in 1 head of broccoli chopped into florets. I add the broccoli last because it doesn’t take as long to wilt as the other ingredients do to brown. If subbing cauliflower for the broccoli, chop into small pieces and add in the beginning with onions and garlic as it is much denser and takes much longer to cook.
I always like to stress that none of this is set in stone. Follow the ingredients for the sauce, but otherwise, add in veggies you prefer, just paying attention to cooking time. Veg like carrots, onions, garlic, potatoes, cauliflower, etc take longer to cook, and produce like broccoli, tomatoes, peas, etc. don’t take long at all.
As your veggies are cooking in the pan, toss in 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, and 1/2 tsp parsley if you have it, and 1/4 tsp salt and pepper in the last few minutes to give your veggies a good flavor. I typically serve these pastas with a vegan Beyond spicy Italian sausage, which I cook in my toaster oven throughout the duration of my veggie prep. When your pasta is done boiling, drain and put back in the pot. Stir in the Alfredo you’ve just made to heat it, and serve when hot. I like to top it with rushed red pepper flakes and parsley.