Dairy Free Creamy Carrot Top Pesto Pasta with Blanched Broccolini
If you're at all like me, on those sweltering days of summer, the last thing you want to think about is turning on the oven or standing over a gas flame cooking dinner for your family. I want something simple and light, but that can also satisfy my entire family without resorting to the standard sandwich or breakfast for dinner route. This recipe fits the bill perfectly. It is free of dairy and great for those craving something comforting and creamy, though filled with tons of vitamins and minerals. Did you know carrot tops contain six times more Vitamin C than the actual carrot themselves? Who knew?! Just make sure to do a little advance planning on this one--the cashews, which are the base for the creamy sauce, do need to be soaked for at least one hour prior to preparation.
Carrot Top Pesto:
bushy tops from 1 bunch of organic carrots (about 4 c lightly packed) 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
zest from 1 lemon
fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon, plus more to taste
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/4 c raw organic pumpkin seeds
Garlic Cashew Cream:
1 c raw cashews, soaked for 1 hour up to overnight fresh lemon juice from 1/2 lemon, plus more to taste 1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp salt
1/4 c filtered water, plus more depending on desired consistency
16 oz organic brown rice pasta (or other gluten free pasta or spiralized vegetable)
6 c filtered water
2 small bunches organic broccolini or broccoli, stems trimmed, torn into bite-sized florets
zest from 1/2 lemon for garnish (optional)
To make pesto, add all ingredients except olive oil into food processor and pulse a few times until finely chopped. Add olive oil in a slow steady stream, scraping down sides of food processor with spatula as needed. Taste and adjust with more salt and/or lemon juice if desired. Set aside. Can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in refrigerator in airtight container.
To make garlic cashew cream, add all ingredients to high speed blender and blend on high until fully incorporated and creamy, about 30 seconds. If the mixture is too think and not blending easily, add more lemon juice or filtered water 1 Tbsp at a time until desired consistency is reached. Using a spatula, transfer cashew cream to a bowl and set aside. Can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in refrigerator in airtight container.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Prepare an ice bath for blanching broccoli by filling a large bowl halfway with ice water and set aside near workstation. When water reaches a boil, gently lower broccoli into water and keep at a low boil for just 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove broccoli and immediately place in ice bath to stop the cooking. Add pasta to boiling water and continue to cook according to instructions. After broccoli has been in ice bath for 1 minute, remove and set aside in a colander or on a towel to drain excess water.
When pasta has reached al dente or desired texture, drain and return to pot with broccoli. Add pesto, 1/4 c at a time, until noodles and broccoli are thoroughly coated. Repeat process with cashew cream, ensuring the noodles and broccoli are thoroughly coated. Keep any remaining pesto or cream sauce in airtight container in refrigerator for another use (great on sandwiches!) Transfer to serving bowls and serve immediately. Alternatively, pasta can be tossed with pesto alone, and a dollop of cashew cream may be added on top, for a more contrasting look and garnish. Garnish with lemon zest and serve.