The perfect summer pasta dish, light and bright with sweet green peas and nutrient-rich spinach. You will want to make this creamy vegan lemon pasta over and over again.
It’s just about 5 am and I am sitting on the back deck of a little beach house in Naragansset, Rhode Island. This city girl was roused from her sleep by the loudest birds in the history of the world. I can sleep through emergency vehicle sirens, crazy outdoor parties, couples fighting on the street, car alarms, and drunken shenanigans at all hours of the night. Birds? Birds wake me up at 5am.
I’m not really mad at the birds. It’s beautiful here and I’m grateful to be the first one up so I can type away at my little computer while the sun rises over the marshes.
But how about I zip it about the birds and get to this pasta.
This ???????? pasta.
This is the easiest summer dinner, ready in about 20 minutes! A massively successful crowd pleaser, and perfect for those days when you need something that feels like a treat.
Jordan started making a version of this creamy lemon pasta a few months ago when he was in the fresh pasta phase. His version was simple, homemade linguini with cream and lemon and lots of butter. Simple, yes. Healthy? Well… I’m not sure I could fully cosign that. As you know I don’t declare any food inherently “bad”, there is room for everything when you are in a positive relationship with food and your body, but Jordan’s version was definitely a “once-in-awhile” food. Meanwhile, after finishing a hefty portion of Jordan’s full-fat version, I boldly declared it was my favorite pasta in the whole wide world. Lemon anything is really my favorite.
I started aggravating him about it, can we add something green? Can we try it without the cream? What if I tried to make a fully vegan version?
He was skeptical.
I was not.
Cashew cream to the rescue. I have worked with cashew cream hundreds of times in my kitchen and I know it nearly perfectly replicates heavy cream. Yes, it is still caloric, but about half as caloric as heavy cream and also full of micronutrients that dairy just doesn’t provide.
So it was on, I was off to recreate the world’s best pasta, just a healthier, greener, plant-based version.
Here she is, and my god isn’t she gorgeous? ????
The verdict is perfection. I actually prefer this version to the original. The addition of fresh peas lightens the dish and adds the perfect counterpoint to the creamy pasta. The spinach is necessary, again a perfect counterbalance to carbs and “cream”. Fresh basil was a last minute addition, I passed a gorgeous bunch at the market and thought – Yaaaassss! A peppery herbaceous bite makes all of the other ingredients sing in perfect harmony.
This beautiful dish will be dinner tonight. I am here in Rhode Island for a mini-break to celebrate my BFFs birthday. She requested pasta and loves lemon (I also brought along a lemon raspberry birthday cake for dessert!) so clearly this pasta is happening! I didn’t find fresh peas for today but frozen will work perfectly well. Ok, I hear the troops waking up, I better wrap this up and get on beach house breakfast duty 🙂
Creamy Vegan Lemon Pasta with Fresh Peas and Spinach
- 1 lb. angel hair pasta
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp lemon zest
- 1/4 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
- 1 cup fresh peas or frozen
- 6 ounces fresh baby spinach
- salted pasta water
- Fresh basil
- Soak cashews in a bowl of water for 10 minutes. Drain and blend with 1/2 cup fresh cold water until creamy. Set aside.
Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. In the meantime pour cashew cream and almond milk into a large skillet on the stove over medium-low heat. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and stir well to combine. Continue cooking on low heat until the pasta is ready.
- Just as the water is coming to a boil add a generous amount of salt, (I've found that about 1 tablespoon of salt to 4-6 quarts of water for one pound of pasta works quite well) and add the pasta. Follow the cooking instructions on the pasta (4 minutes for angel hair) but add the peas to the pot 3 minutes before the pasta will be finished. When the pasta is al dente (about 1 minutes before it's done) reserve about 2 cups of cooking liquid, then drain the pasta and the peas.
- Add pasta and peas to the pan with the cashew cream, and add the spinach. Stir until the spinach is wilted (a few minutes) and pour in little bits of salted pasta water to thin out. I ended up using about 1/2 cup pasta water.
- Serve with fresh basil.
- For a gluten-free version use quinoa or brown rice pasta or your favorite gluten-free pasta.
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