I know, I know. It’s the New Year. We’re all about losing weight and healthy eating now, right? Except...it’s freezing outside. I mean, there was a polar vortex going on this week! Basically, instead of hitting the gym and drinking juice, I really just want to curl up with a big bowl of comfort food. There is just something about the chilly weather that makes me crave a large bowl of mac and cheese or fettuccini alfredo. I’m such a sucker for creamy, cheesy pasta dishes.
This is sort of an alfredo sauce. Except not really. But it is creamy and dreamy, and full of the amazing flavors of sun dried tomatoes. Oh, and basil. Because I bought too much basil and then didn’t use it for a brunch I hosted. But that’s another story. The point is, sun dried tomatoes and basil make for a heavenly combination. Add a few red pepper flakes for a kick and it's perfect. And, because it’s me, this isn’t actually all that unhealthy. It just tastes like it. You’re welcome.
We’ll have salad next week, ok? Or up you can bulk this dish up by throwing in some roasted broccoli or mushrooms. For now, I just want to be toasty warm, in my pajamas, in front of a fireplace (my space heater will do), eating something I probably shouldn’t. Is that really too much to ask for?
What do you crave in this cold weather?
Creamy Tomato Pasta
Adapted from Oh My Veggies, serves 8
1 pound whole-wheat pasta shells (or other pasta shape of your choice)
2 cups pasta water
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
3/4 cup sun dried tomatoes (if they’re really dry, feel free to soak them in the broth first)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (less if you don’t like the heat)
1/2 cup thinly sliced basil leaves, plus more for garnish
1. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Make sure the pasta is al dente.
2. While the pasta cooks, put the cashews, broth, tomatoes, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and garlic into a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth, then taste and adjust the salt and pepper as desired. You might have to add in some of the pasta water to get a smooth, creamy consistency.
3. Reserve the remaining pasta water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot over low heat. Mix in the rest of the water, cream sauce, red pepper flakes, and basil. Stir until the sauce coats the noodles and everything is heated through. Serve hot (though cold leftovers are also delicious).