Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Creamy pea pasta

December 1, 2013

I've had a minor pea epiphany lately. I've been hating on the frozen ones all my life, and it seems probable that I've just been eating them seriously overcooked. It turns out that they don't have to be all squishy inside - with the quickest of boils they retain much of their bite. They're still not quite the equal of freshly podded specimens but you couldn't make pea prep quicker or easier than popping the frozen fellers into your pasta water.

I pulled this trick for dinner last week. I'd flicked through cookbooks while Michael made brunch,  and liked the simple springtime look of Deb Perelman's sweet peas and shells alfredo in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I simplified a little further with my frozen peas instead of fresh, and then struck out on my own when it came to the sauce. 

Perelman's alfredo consisted largely of butter, cream and parmesan but I decided to cook up my own vegan alternative. Lots of cashews, a little nooch and miso, plus an extra shot of lemon. Taste-testing from the blender, I was very pleased with myself - it was smooth, very creamy and arguably cheesy. The effect was a little blander once mixed with the pasta and parsley, so there's room for more savoury flavouring (I think I might include some garlic powder next time). My plate got the small boost it needed from a tomato salad.

Creamy pea pasta
(inspired by a recipe in Deb Perelman's
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)

1 cup raw cashews
250g small pasta shapes
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
3 teaspoons white miso
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
zest and juice of a lemon
salt, to taste
pinch of white pepper
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

Cover the cashews in water and soak them for at least 4 hours.

Resume cooking when the cashews are ready. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the pasta as directed on its packaging, adding the frozen peas to the pot for the last 4 minutes.

While the pasta is cooking, blend the cashews with 1/2 cup of their soaking water until creamy. Add the miso, nooch, lemon juice, salt and pepper and blend thoroughly. Taste and adjust the flavours to your liking.

Drain the pasta and peas, then return them to the pot. Stir in the cashew sauce and parsley. Serve the pasta in bowls, sprinkled with lemon zest.

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