{Vegan} Asparagus and Sweet Pea Fettuccine Alfredo | With White Wine and Lemon

Our new house is proving to be the gift that gives on giving in the faulty appliance department. It started with the archaic beast of a cathode ray tube TV we dragged in from the shed when we first moved in; our initial plan was to put this relic to use until we could retrieve our flat screen from the storage locker. Evidently the years it spent mouldering out back proved to be too much for this already obsolete goggle box, for upon plugging it into the wall it began scrolling itself (!?) through various static-y channels before going completely dark, presumably forever. As we aren’t avid enough fans of TV to attempt to trouble shoot and repair such an ancient piece of technology, the next day it was dispatched to the local waste disposal station along with the teal wall-to-wall carpet ripped up from the bedroom floor.

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I won’t reiterate the problems we were having with our screwy toilet and besides, a toilet doesn’t really count as an appliance. I will mention briefly that those issues seemed to have resolved themselves, something which has had a surprisingly significant impact on my personal quality of life index; being able to flush and be done with the matter is pretty awesome! The next piece of appliance drama came in the form of a humongous ball of fluff – possibly years worth (seriously, I could have made a throw pillow out of it ) – extracted from the lint trap in the dryer. That’s it. The real drama played itself out in my brain, where the fluff ball caught ablaze and burned the whole house down while we slept. Morbid thoughts! My inner neurotic always has a field day with potential hazards.

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The most recent appliance debacle occurred just a couple days ago and nearly toppled my plans to make this moreish pasta dish. In the midst of reheating some food in the oven I noticed a few wisps of smoke rising from behind the stove. This wasn’t merely ‘burning food’ smoke (which would have freaked me out enough), but the far more menacing, hot and plastically, ‘electrical component failure’ variety. I switched off the oven and started panicking a little – not like the time flames leapt into the air when I threw a bunch of kale into a skillet containing overheated olive oil, that was out-and-out hysterics – but panicking enough. Mike (an electrician by trade, hallelujah) was summoned from the front lawn and was able to quickly ID the problem (something with one of the connections in the wiring) and fix it – and in so doing put an end to sinister thoughts of preparing this dish in the microwave.

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Alas, I’m back with yet another cashew cream sauce recipe. I can’t help it – the stuff is just so versatile and delish I want to throw it into everything these days! There’s a fun little game I’ve been playing with Mike – I call it ‘vegan bombing’ and it involves feeding him vegan dishes and seeing if he’s able to discern the absence of eggs and dairy products. My cashew cream recipes, I’m proud to report, ALWAYS pass the test! What’s more, they don’t leave you with that depressing ‘I just consumed my weight in butter and cream’ feeling with which conventional cream sauces probably leave you. I don’t know about you, but white wine alfredo sauce totally makes me think of the 80s – you know, yuppies yucking it up on yachts, Hall and Oates, gigantic shoulder pads, stuff along those lines of cocaine – but I love it all the same! Combined with fresh asparagus, sweet green peas and lemon, it’s like a mouthful o’ Spring 🙂

What is your favourite way to cook asparagus? I’m always looking for new ideas!

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Recipe: Asparagus and Sweet Pea Fettuccine Alfredo | With White Wine and Lemon

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain cashews (+ water for soaking)
  • 225g fettuccine pasta (or your choice of gluten free pasta)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (I used low sodium broth)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup sweet green peas (thawed if using frozen)
  • 12 thin asparagus stalks, tough ends removed
  • 1/3 cup white wine (I used Pinot Blanc)
  • Zest of 1 medium lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. Place cashews in a small bowl and cover with water. Let soak for an hour. Drain and rinse.

2. Place soaked cashews and vegetable broth in a blender or food processor. Blend for two minutes or until cashews and broth form a smooth liquid. Set aside.

3. Fill a medium skillet with cold water and bring to a gentle boil. Add asparagus and reduce to a simmer. Let asparagus cook just until bright green and tender crisp (this should only take a minute or two). Immediately drain asparagus and transfer to a bowl of ice water (this will ensure asparagus doesn’t over cook).

4. Once asparagus is cold, remove from water and cut into 1″ pieces. Set aside until needed.

5. Cook fettuccine according to package instructions, or until al dente. Drain and rinse. Set aside until needed.

6. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and saute just until garlic is golden brown.

7. Reduce heat slightly. Sprinkle flour into skillet and whisk continuously until a smooth paste forms.

8. Slowly pour cashew and broth mixture into skillet, whisking continuously until everything is incorporated and a smooth, creamy sauce forms.

9. Stir in wine and lemon zest. Taste sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.

10. Fold in pasta, peas and asparagus.

11. Serve immediately, topping each portion with freshly ground black pepper. Eat!

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Crunchy Daikon and Mutsu Apple Salad | With Blueberry-Shallot Vinaigrette

As an avid fan of anything and everything related to food, there is no stronger proof that I’m under the weather than when I want no part of it: not see it, not smell it, not read about it, not write about it, not be near it and certainly not eat it. Such has been the case for the last few days. While I wasn’t afflicted with a full-on stomach flu, my body was clearly trying to fight one off, as I completely lost my appetite, was in bed with body aches that would randomly come and go, and had ZERO physical and mental energy. I was feeling quite sorry for myself, trust me!

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Hunter (aka nocturnal feeder extraordinaire) continues to wake me up 5-6 times per night to nurse, so my mystery illness may have just been a culmination of not getting a decent night’s sleep in recent – make that distant – memory, but that still doesn’t explain my very uncharacteristic loss of appetite (seriously, even on my deathbed I’m sure I’ll be sending requests for coffee and donuts). There’s a particularly virulent flu ravaging all of North America this year, so I’ll stick with my theory that maybe I had a touch of it, although no unsavoury bodily emissions actually occurred, thank goodness!

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I prepared and photographed this salad last week, but before I could publish the recipe symptoms of the mystery illness began to take hold and suddenly I decided I hated food in all its forms. My own cooking struck me as particularly unappealing and consequently I felt entirely disinclined to write a single word about this salad for days. A quinoa and black bean-stuffed pepper concoction, although tasty, was another casualty of my being sick and also fell by the wayside. Now that I can face food again I’ll hopefully have the latter posted here ASAP as well 🙂

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This salad was built around daikon radish and represents my first go with this ingredient. I had long been intrigued with daikon but always passed it by at the green grocer – along with celery root – as I didn’t know what it tasted like or what to do with it (the same still goes for celery root). Finally I took the plunge and found that although it looks radically different than the red radishes I normally use, its taste and texture are quite similar, although it’s maybe a bit milder and juicier.

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My first instinct was to use the daikon raw in a salad, although it can also also be eaten cooked – GiRRL_Earth told me she added it to this minestrone soup recipe, and I also recently saw it stir fried with sesame oil here. So clearly it’s a versatile ingredient! I thought it was a nice addition to this salad and really liked it in combination with the pear-like flavour and crispness of the Mutsu apples, the fresh crunch of the celery and romaine hearts, and the zing of the blueberry-shallot dressing. While I’m in no position to attest to the purported anti-bacterial and ant-viral properties of daikon (sadly it didn’t have the power to halt the mystery illness in its tracks), I’ll certainly be bringing it into the rotation of vegetables I cook with on a regular basis 🙂

Recipe: Crunchy Daikon and Mutsu Apple Salad | With Blueberry-Shallot Vinaigrette

Makes 2 salads

Ingredients:

For Blueberry Shallot Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup blueberries (thawed if using frozen berries)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

  • 4 leave of romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 1 daikon radish, sliced into 10 or so thin strips (using a mandolin or vegetable peeler)
  • 1 Mutsu apple, cored and finely sliced
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely sliced
  • 1 small shallot, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup sweet green peas (thawed if using frozen peas)
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Method:
Prepare Blueberry-Shallot Vinaigrette: Place ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Taste and season to your liking with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until needed.
Assemble salad: Place sliced apple in a large salad bowl and toss with lemon juice (this will prevent apple from browning). Add other ingredients and gently toss to combine.
Divvy salad into two portions and top with blueberry-shallot vinaigrette and freshly ground black pepper. Eat!