RECIPE: Pasta with asparagus and creamy mushroom sauce

Every winter, I get a little… squishy. It gets so cold and dark here. I move less and I crave comfort foods: pizza, creamy soups, pasta with alfredo sauce, and carbs. And I’m okay with a little extra padding; it’s just part of my yearly hibernation. But now, we’ve had a few really nice days and even though the temperature dropped again, it’s still sunny and the air smells springy. It’s time to make the switch to fresh veggies, more protein, and fewer carbs. Now that the sidewalks aren’t covered in ice, we can go for walks again, too! That said, since it’s back in the 30s, I wanted to find an in-between dish. A little poking around on Pinterest lead me to this inspired recipe for an imitation mushroom alfredo sauce.

Changes I made:

While Karielyn of The Healthy Family and Home has a Vitamix, I have but a lowly Ninja. I’m sure it would have been fine if I’d soaked cashews for awhile (which I’ll try next time), but I didn’t plan that far ahead. Instead, I had Trader Joe’s salted cashew butter in the fridge, so I warmed it slowly while I cleaned and coarsely chopped the garlic, shallots, and mushrooms. Karielyn doesn’t seem to cook the ingredients she uses in the sauce, but raw garlic, shallots, and mushrooms seemed a little… intense to me. Once the cashew butter was runnier, I added the water, mixed to further thin the cashew butter, and added the veggies and fresh rosemary, then let it simmer while the pasta cooked. I strained the cooked pasta, then started blending my sauce ingredients in batches and dumping it into the pot my pasta had been in so I could keep it warm. When the skillet was empty, I added olive oil and started the asparagus. I knew we’d have leftovers, so I topped the pasta with the asparagus and ladled sauce over both. With a little freshly ground salt and pepper, it was ready to go!

Outcome:

It’s definitely not the prettiest dish, but holy crap, I think I could eat this instead of alfredo for the rest of my life if I had to. Boyfriend is always skeptical of my weird ingredient experiments (tofu mousse, cauliflower puree in our cheddar broccoli soup, flax meal in our banana bread). He’s loved them all so far, but he was literally licking the spoon when I asked him to stir the sauce last night. Plus, fiber and good fats and veggies!

So, in addition to some changes in diet and exercise, I went for my first physical in… let’s go with 8 years? It’s disconcerting to realize you’re at an age when the residents at a teaching hospital are about even with you, which means you’ll soon be seeing doctors younger than you are. But the woman I had today was really nice and laid-back, so that was good! Apparently I was due for a TDAP booster, so I got that. Good for another 10 years now!

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