Penne with spinach and cashew cream sauce

By Wendy Andresen | May 16, 2018
Photo by: Wendy Andresen

This decadent-tasting dish owes its richness to a creamy sauce thickened with cashews. Soak cashews overnight to soften them, but boiling them for 10 minutes can serve if you weren't able to plan ahead and if you use a high-speed blender or smoothie maker. Cashews have all the health benefits of other types of tree nuts, but unlike other nuts, they contain 10 percent starch. They can thus be used as an effective thickening agent for dishes such as soups, stews, curries and some desserts. Say goodbye to cornstarch and hello to this healthy, protein-rich alternative.


8 ounces penne pasta

5 ounces organic baby spinach

1 cup plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk

1/4 cup whole raw cashews

2 Tbsp. dry white wine

1 to 2 Tbsp. non-dairy margarine

1 Tbsp. cider vinegar

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. garlic herb seasoning, such as Mrs. Dash

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tomato, diced, for garnish

Parmesan “cheese” for serving (see recipe below)


1. Soak cashews overnight in the cup of non-dairy milk.

2. Distribute spinach evenly in the strainer you plan to drain the penne in.

3. Cook penne according to package directions.

4. While penne is cooking, use a high-speed blender to blend the cashew/milk mixture. Blend at least 2 minutes.

5. Pour the cashew/milk mixture into a small saucepan and add the other ingredients, except for the tomato and Parmesan. Whisk and cook until thickened, but don’t let it stick or burn.

6. Pour the boiling water and penne evenly over the spinach and drain well.

7. Place penne and spinach in a serving bowl and gently stir in sauce.

8. Garnish with chopped tomatoes and serve with grated Parmesan “cheese.” My husband likes to add a sprinkling of red pepper flakes.

Grated Parmesan “cheese”

I’ve included this recipe before, but in case you missed it, here it is again.

You can order lactic acid powder online, and you’ll definitely need it for this recipe and others that will soon follow here.


2 cups almond flour

2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

2 Tbsp. mellow white miso paste

1 1/2 tsp. lactic acid powder

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. garlic powder


Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times. This makes a huge batch, so you can refrigerate some in a pretty jar that looks nice on your table and store the rest in the freezer indefinitely.

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