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It's SUMMER Dine Al Fresco!-Vegan Lemon Asparagus Pasta Topped with Cashew Cream

Posted Jun 13 2012 11:57am

Oh wow a month has gone past since my last blog post! How time flies! We’ve been busy, as most everyone else, welcoming summer with open arms! We are loving the longer days, amazing Nor Cal weather, night breezes and dining al fresco. I have been feverishly planning our summer away trying to be sure we can pack in as much fun as possible. When I was a kid summer was the BEST! I never went to summer school or really even spent a minute inside. I was busy playing with my childhood best friend Megan and our animals (goats, sheep, chickens, horses you name it we had it) and planning our next great adventure while enjoying long summer horseback rides. When I was a kid, insert snide old person remark here, summer was long and filled with empty time waiting to be filled with whatever exciting project we would take on next, for example mud skiing behind a 4 wheeler wearing a swim suit, rubber boots and protective eye goggles. Our parents were never thrilled with the giant mud mess we made in the back pasture (!) but at least we thought about safety…well at least for our eyes.

Now… summer is gone in a blink of an eye! I stopped working two years ago in July. I had big plans…we were going to camp, and fish, and vacation at the beach more than ever before…I mean now we had the TIME. Over the last two summers we camped once and had one beach vacation. How did Megan and I have TIME to go on ALL of our adventures during the summer when we were kids, and now I can’t even manage to provide my kids with more than one camping trip in a summer? I’m still learning how to fit it all in. But this year I’m ready, like the kind of ready crazy people are when they are fixated on something or someone. I’m ready to pack in the summer fun! I want my kids to LOVE summer the way I always did. I’m so ready this may possibly be the summer my children look back on as the summer their Mom went CRAZY and they were always exhausted! I don’t want to waste a minute of glorious summer freedom. No homework, No faith formation, No soccer, No volunteering and No teaching art! FREEDOM. I like to think of it as a cleansing of the mind, body and soul. TIME for everyone to recharge their batteries by soaking in the sun, smells of BBQ and funny stories read from a book, just for fun, under a shady tree.

So planning is key! You can’t just GO camping… So I’ve planned two camping trips, two beach trips, a few day hiking trips, summer BBQs, swim lessons, a girls trip to Vegas (Mamma needs to have to have fun too!!), picnics and summer play dates. Ready, Set, Go! Doesn’t sound cleansing you say? To me there is something cleansing or refreshing at least about only having organic responsibilities to take care of while planning for weekly fun! I have been so ready for the lightness summer offers that it has transcended TIME, and has been a lovely guiding principal for the past few weeks. Clothes are light and airy, beverages cool and refreshing and food cleansing….

Now I will admit my hubby doesn’t exactly LOVE the idea of vegetarian or vegan fare, he is a meat eater first and foremost, however he has come a long way from the guy who would order a burger “hold any produce” to the guy who devoured this vegan lemon pasta with shaved raw asparagus and cashew cream, ask for seconds and question what was happening with the leftovers… Even if you’re not a vegetarian or vegan you will flip over this dairy-free cream sauce, a staple I used in my raw vegan days. Raw asparagus paired with the acidy of the lemon pasta is a perfect marriage. Keep it light as is, or add some delicious grilled vegan bread! If you don’t have the time or the desire to make the pasta just buy some prepackaged vegan pasta Enjoy…

1 2/3 cup all purpose flour (or 50:50 whole wheat/ AP)

Approximately 2/3 cup of water

1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt

1 tsp oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

3 tbsp lemon zest, finely chopped

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt, then add the water and oil. -Stir the mixture with a fork until it starts to form a ball. Then you can use your hands to combine the dough. If it's too dry, add more water (very little at a time) or if it's too wet, add a touch more flour.

Turn the dough ball out onto a well-floured cutting board. Flour your hands as well. You'll need to knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until it becomes smooth and pliable. If the dough or board is too wet, dust with flour. You should be able to work with the ball without having it stick to anything. You may have to add flour periodically through the kneading process. To knead, push the dough away from you with the heel of your hand. Then fold it over on itself, turn it and repeat.

After kneading let the dough rest, covered in plastic wrap for about 10 minutes. After the dough has rested, divide it into eighths. I roll mine into a long log, and then cut into 8 sections. Work with one piece at a time, leaving the others covered with a damp tea towel so they don’t dry out. Using a pasta maker roll each section through on the widest setting 8-10 times until the dough is silky. Cover and rest 30-60 minutes.

Crank each of the sections through the pasta machine decreasing the roller setting by 1 each time you pass the sheet though until desired thickness is obtained (mine was between 2 and 4 mm thick).

Sprinkle a wooden board or counter lined with wax paper with flour. Place pasta sheets on flour and allow to rest 10 minutes (dry to the touch but still pliant).

Now you are ready to cut noodles. I made hand cut tagliatelle noodles because I like the rustic look of hand cut pasta, but fettuccini made with the fettuccini plate on the pasta machine would be great too!

Cook pasta in well salted boiling water for 2-3 min until al dente.

(makes 2 ½-3 ½ cups depending on desired consistency)

2 cups whole raw cashews rinsed very well under cold water, do not use roasted cashews

1 clove garlic, grated

Fresh squeezed lemon juice, to taste

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
Cover cashews with cold water, cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight

Drain the cashews and rinse under cold water. Place them in a blender with enough fresh cold water to cover them by about 1 inch.

Add 1 clove of grated garlic to the blender. Blend on high for several minutes until very smooth. (If you do not have a professional high-speed blender, which creates an ultra-smooth cream, you may want to strain the cashew cream through a fine-mesh sieve.)

Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

You can adjust the consistency of this cream by the amount of water used, adjust it to your preference.

1 lb fresh asparagus, rinsed and woody ends removed
Ice water

Remove the asparagus tips and reserve. With a vegetable peeler shave each asparagus stock from top to bottom, making beautiful little asparagus ribbons. Immediately place the asparagus ribbons in an ice bath. Blanch asparagus tips in salted boiling water for 1 min, remove and place in ice bath. Drain asparagus and pat dry. Combine cooked pasta and cashew cream in a large bowl. Top pasta with shaved asparagus and asparagus tips. Enjoy!
Never juice a fresh lemon without zesting it first! You can save the zest in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to a week. You can also add zest to a jar of sugar to create lemon sugar.
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