Friday, December 3, 2010

Recipe: Spicy Vegan Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce

It has now been a week since I had a functional kitchen sink, but I've decided I can't let that keep me from cooking.  Or eating...skipping dinner is kind of a drag and you can only eat frozen meals so many days in a row.  So...I decided to whip out my Magic Bullet Blender (it's more awesome than you might think!  and easier to drag out than my real blender!) and whip up a homemade pasta sauce. 

I've been dying to make a vegan cream sauce that doesn't taste vegan (not saying all vegan food is bad, but some things definitely don't resemble their dairy filled counterparts).  I attempted to make a cream sauce with tofu and nutritional yeast a few weeks back, and I'm not sure I've ever put something so foul tasting in my mouth.  After some extensive google-ing and consulting with Chef Jakub Mejstrik, I decided that using a vegan cashew cream was the way to go.  (plus, everything at Akron's amazing vegan restaurant - Vegiterranean - is made with it, and they clearly know more about vegan cooking than I do.

Not familiar with cashew cream?  It's probably the easiest thing I've ever made.  All you do is buy raw cashews at the store (not the Mr. Peanut processed kind!), soak them in water for a couple hours, and then pop them in a blender with a little bit of water.  Then, through the magic of science, or something like that, you have an amazing vegan cream!  Important note - you might need more water than you think to whip up a batch of vegan cream - most recipes say one cup cashews to one cup water, but you might need more or less - use your best judgement here.  You want the cream sauce to be, well, creamy...not a thick cashew-y paste.  And note that one cup of water + one cup of water will yield close to 2 cups cashew cream.  Unless you need that much for a recipe, feel free to scale down the amounts to something that will meet your needs.

So this was step one in my spicy vegan vodka tomato cream sauce creation process.  The rest is as follows:

Ingredients: (serves 2)
- 2 servings noodles
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- fresh garlic - finely diced (use as much or as little as you like!  but don't be stingy with it)
- 14 ounce can whole tomatoes
- 1/4 cup cashew cream
- 1 tablespoon vodka
- 1 teaspoon parsley

  1. Boil water and prepare noodles following directions on package. 
  2. While noodles are boiling, put oil, garlic, and red pepper into a small to medium saucepan with the temperature at medium/medium-high.  Allow to simmer until garlic begins to soften.
  3. While the noodles are boiling and the garlic/oil/pepper mixture is boiling, use a small blender (Magic Bullet, ahem) or a food processor to grind tomatoes into a paste. 
  4. Add tomato mixture, cashew cream, parsley, and vodka to the oil/pepper/garlic mixture and bring to a boil.  Stir frequently to prevent the sauce from burning.  Once sauce begins to thicken, it is "done."
  5. Add cooked noodles to sauce mixture and stir for a minute or so until all noodles are covered in creamy, saucy goodness.
The result:

A sauce that rivaled any tomato cream sauce I've had in a non-vegan restaurant.  Really!  It was pretty amazing how similar the taste and texture was!  I even fed this to a non veg and he really liked it.  (maybe more than I did?  I think I skimped on the garlic) The red pepper gave it a subtle kick, but I think I could turn that flavor up a notch next time.

Now that I've discovered cashew cream, I can't wait to experiment with it some more!  (lookout, my lactose intolerant friends!  I'll have lots of food for you to try!) I've never really liked using heavy cream in recipes (for lots of different reasons) and I never seem to have it on hand when I need it.  Now that I know I can just whip up a batch of cashew cream quickly and easily, I might never use dairy cream again!   

Anyone else out there in internet land know of any other great recipes using cashew cream?


  1. Cashews are so versatile, aren't they? I've used them in a couple of recipes from Vegan Table with great results. I made a thick cashew cream that is similar to cream cheese:

    I also made cashew sour cream:

    What's fun about cashews is that you can add in a variety of seasonings to give a different flavor profile and different amounts of water to vary the texture.

  2. This is amazing. I made this for Christmas for my omnivorous family and everyone LOVED it. Making it again tonight for a romantic dinner ;]