This easy pasta dish, traditionally made with cheese, milk, butter and oil, has been given a healthy makeover, using cashews and white beans to create the creamy white sauce. The cashews add richness while the white beans help keep the calories down.
- For the pasta:
- 1 package fettuccini pasta (12 ounces), to serve 4
- For the sauce:
- ¾ cup water
- 2 ounces raw, unsalted cashews (about ½ cup)
- 1 can white beans (15 ounces; about 1½ cups), drained and rinsed
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- ¾ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (or a pinch to ¼ teaspoon preground)
- 1 ounce cashews, walnuts, or pine nuts (about ¼ cup; for optional garnish)
- Chopped parsley (for optional garnish)
- To start the Alfredo sauce, place the water and cashews into a blender, and set aside for at least 15 minutes (so the cashews can soften).
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions (about 10 minutes). Drain and rinse with cool water, return the to the pot, and set aside (off of the heat).
- Add the beans, lemon juice, garlic, white pepper, and nutmeg to the blender of cashews and water, and blend until very smooth (add a little water as needed to thin).
- Stir the Alfredo sauce into the pot of cooked pasta, and heat through on medium-low heat (don't boil). Serve immediately as is or topped with grated nuts (use a rotary cheese grater to create a parmesan cheese-like topping) and/or chopped fresh parsley.
Adjust the nuts. If you don't want to use nuts in the sauce, simply substitute ½ cup more white beans in their place. The sauce will not have the same richness (since nuts are nearly all fat), but it will still produce a nice sauce. Also, feel free to decrease or increase the nuts as desired, adjusting the beans measurement accordingly (so that you end up with a total of 2 cups of cashews and beans).
For a little more flavor, add a teaspoon of lemon zest or ¼ to ½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes to the pasta and sauce in step 4.
For a heartier meal, add some lightly cooked vegetables, such as onion, mushrooms, green peas, and/or summer squash, and/or chopped fresh tomatoes.
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