Right off, I’ll confess the obvious: it’s not Monday today. Due to a temporary technical glitch yesterday, Meatless Monday will occur on Tuesday this week. In honor of the Spring Equinox—yea spring!—today’s recipe will celebrate the flavors of the season.
When I think of spring I think of lightness, warmth and color. That’s what today’s recipe offers. I based this recipe on one I’ve made many times in Ron Pickarski’s vegan classic, Friendly Foods. But I decided to venture away from the recipe by substituting fresh asparagus in place of mushrooms and peppers. Fresh asparagus is one of the many, many things I appreciate about spring. Feel free to make substitutions to your own liking.
This recipe makes a LOT of sauce, so you will be able to enjoy it for more than one meal. If pasta isn’t your thing, you can serve it over your favorite grain or even a baked potato.
Meatless Monday: Vegan Pasta Primavera
- 6 T extra virgin olive oil
- 3 T flour
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 T garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1 quart cashew milk (almond works too)
- 1 cup butternut squash purée
- 1 carrot, sliced in ovals or half ovals (For half ovals, slice the carrot in half lengthwise from the wide end, leaving the last couple inches intact. Rotate the carrot 90 degrees so that the uncut surface faces you. Slice diagonally in 1/8-inch slices.)
- 8-10 asparagus spears, cut diagonally in 1-2″ pieces
- 1 cup celery, sliced on a diagonal
- salt and pepper to taste
- Peel and cube the butternut squash into approximately 1/2-inch cubes. Steam the squash until soft. Purée in a blender or food processor and set aside. If you’re using a blender, you can add a little of the cashew milk to it to make it easier to blend.
- After you remove the butternut squash pieces from the steamer, add the carrots. Steam for 4-5 minutes, then add the asparagus and steam for another 5 minutes or more. Thicker asparagus may require an extra minute or two. Keep checking. When asparagus is tender, but with a bit of crunch—not mushy!—drain the carrots and asparagus in a colander and set aside.
- Heat the oil on medium heat in a medium-sized saucepan. Sauté the onion in the oil for about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the garlic and basil and sauté another 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
- Add the flour and stir to incorporate it into the mixture. Stir for a minute or so.
- Add the cashew milk and stir until the flour lumps disappear. Then stir frequently as the mixture thickens.
- When the sauce has thickened, stir in the butternut squash purée, carrots, asparagus and celery. Stir to integrate everything.
- Serve over pasta, grain or a baked potato.