Basil Cashew Cream Sauce

Hey, friends! It’s been a while since I posted a savory recipe, and I’m going to try to get on this more for a few reasons. The first reasons is I love sharing (duh) and getting people to try new things they normally wouldn’t. Second, we’re back to a mainly plant based diet and I need to have a good way of remember what we liked and how to make it again more or less.

A few weekends ago, when we were up in the mountains of Maine, Andy’s aunt who has been on a whole foods plant based diet for two years brought up some homemade basil cashew cream she made and we went nuts. This stuff is incredibly good and is awesome on pasta, for dipping veggies in, for dipping tortilla chips in and whatever the heck else you think sounds good. It really is super versatile, though we love it most on a good pasta. I had heard about cashew cream for desserts, but I had never made it or heard about it being made savory. I’m hooked.

This is a super duper simple dish that anyone with a blender, and I’m guessing a food processor, can make. It takes four ingredients and two spices and is incredibly hard to screw up. That’s it, unless you choose to do more to it.

  • Basil
  • Raw cashews (don’t use roasted or salted)
  • Garlic
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Pepper

DSC_7069-01Here’s how it goes:

Put all items in blender. Blend and add more of whatever until it has the taste and consistency you like. I would say I did about 1 1/2 cups of raw cashews, 4-6 handfuls of basil leaves, a whole bunch of garlic (we love it around here) and enough water to make sure it still had a nice thickness to it so it would really cling to garlic. Think hummus thickness, only slightly thinner.

DSC_7070-01Most important of all, just have fun with it as I think we should do with all cooking. Add your garlic slow, add your basil slow, add your water slow, add your salt slow and you’ll be fine. I don’t like a lot of salt, so I use very little and let Andy salt to his taste. I love pepper though, so I use very little and then pepper to my taste on my own plate. 

DSC_7073-01When all is said and done, use it however you would like. I put mine in masons jars since I made in the afternoon, and we used one jar over pasta that night, and one jar over pasta last night. 

DSC_7082-01DSC_7091-01This is officially a staple in our home. It’s simple, it’s clean, it’s easy, it’s worth the 2 minutes it takes to throw together, and it’s very good for you. I never thought I would say it but as much as we love pesto in this house, we’re actually going towards this delicious cashew cream on a regular basis. Crazyness.

xo,

Heather

Smoothie 101

Between the hot summer days, the renovations and everything else going on, there are just some days you don’t feel like cooking a whole lot. There’s something about a humid 85 degree day that doesn’t exactly make you want to throw on your apron and be Betty Crocker or Julia Childs. Granted I could never be either one of these ladies anyway so I guess I’m in luck.

With all of the energy we are exerting renovating, especially Andy, it’s pretty important to make sure we keep not only hydration but vitamins up. This means smoothies. Lots and lots of smoothies.

We mostly have these for breakfasts and/or lunches on the weekends but lately I’ve been making them for dinner or as an after dinner snack. Tonight for example I cooked the boys some spaghetti, but I was so darn hot after standing around that boiling water and sauteing veggies for the sauce that I couldn’t even *think* about eating something so hot. I was pretty sure my skin would have melted right off my bones if I managed to get as hot inside as I felt outside. That’s a little dramatic, but I still wasn’t having it.

Enter the smoothie.

Unlike what you might think, you absolutely do not need to have tons of fresh fruit on hand. In fact, we often only have oranges and bananas fresh in this house. I buy the store brand frozen fruit in bags stocked in the freezer for easy access. Using frozen fruit also means no adding ice that will water down your smoothie later on. Double score. Oh, and I personally prefer to buy all of my fruits separate so I can mix and match, but if mixed bags are your thing have at it. There’s no smoothie police. I once tried to find a number for them when my brother made a beet smoothie. Unfortunately, they do not exist.

I’m going to suggest something—invest in a Vitamix. Let me add in here that this is not a paid post. My Dad bought us one of these for Christmas a few years ago and it has hands down been in the top 5 most used/valuable kitchen items I have. One of the best reasons it’s smoothie-tastic-awesometown is that you don’t have to peel any fruit you can normally eat the skin of (i.e. apples, etc.—it blends so fine, including seeds, you can’t tell. This means you get all the nutrition unlike a juicer).  I know they aren’t cheap, but they are incredibly worth it. It’s also hands down the loudest item I own in the kitchen, and I’m pretty sure you should be wearing hearing protectors when you use it (especially when you throw dried garbanzo’s in to make flour) but I don’t even care. Forget blenders, Vitamix is where it’s at.  Can I please tell you that it can make sorbet in about 15 seconds flat? Well, I’m going to. Sorbet in 15 seconds is my bag of chips. Minus the chips and plus a delicious wonderful, smooth, fruity, frozen snack. 

But this is about smoothies. So, with me now focusing on wanting sorbet, here’s a “recipe” for one of my favorite quick and easy smoothies. Though really, they are all just about my favorites. If you love V-8 put a bunch of veggies in, even beets if that’s your thing…I guess. It’s not mine, but if a smoothie has fruit in it I’m in. If you add in any kind of spinach or kale to that fruit watch out, I might just pour it over my face in slow motion Gatorade-after-a-championship-win style.

It’s an attractive mental image, I’m aware.

Best Ever Smoothie (Except probably not because there are a thousand variations which are super ridiculous tasty)

  • Some Soy/Coconut/Almond or Rice Milk
  • A banana
  • An orange
  • Frozen Strawberries
  • Frozen Pineapple

Directions: Whiz until tasty and combined. Then pour into glasses. Unless you made a small batch and you’re home alone, then maybe drink right out of the Vitamix container. I suggest a glass but hey, it’s your home. I hope. Maybe don’t do it with a friends.

Other favorite combinations include:

  • Blackberry, Strawberry, Banana, Orange and Coconut Milk
  • Kale, Spinach, Banana, Raspberries, Agave Nectar, Almond Milk
  • Strawberry, Soy Yogurt, Soy Milk
  • Spinach, Pineapple, Mango, Orange, Orange Juice, Soy Milk
  • Carrot, Spinach, Mango, Peach, Rice Milk
  • Anything you have in the freezer that might end up super tasty in a smoothie

It’s really that simple, and it feels a heck of a lot better than any of the frozen “add juice and shake” or fast food smoothies out there. Plus, did I mention you can make sorbet?

Must. Make. Sorbet. Now.

xo,

Heather