Spring has sprung! Now that it’s late April and we’ve been having some beautiful weather, I’m unofficially declaring that the cold weather won’t be back until sometime this fall! To celebrate the season, I created this creamy white bean pasta with spring vegetables and basil. The pasta sauce is made from a base of white beans and almond milk, which helps make it both creamy and light. This dish requires just 10 ingredients and about 30 minutes to prepare!
If you’re wondering why I made a pasta sauce out of pureed white beans, it’s because I have a deep seated aversion to making anything with a roux. I knew that I wanted to make a nice delicate pasta featuring almond milk and spring vegetables. This meant that the sauce needed to be thickened somehow so that it would coat the pasta nicely. Because I would fear overcooking the vegetables, I didn’t want to make a one pot pasta this time. It seemed like the other options were either to make a roux with flour, or add raw cashews. I’m just tired of cashews right now and I inexplicably and irrationally refuse to make a roux EVER, so the idea occurred to me to blend in some white beans for that thickness factor. It’s a nice way to sneak in a little more staying power to the meal, too :).
Folded in with the white bean pasta sauce are nicely blanched asparagus and sugar snap peas. I love this easy method of throwing them in for the last few minutes of pasta cooking. However, if you wanted to go even more gourmet with this dish you could roast them in the oven instead.
I kept the white bean sauce recipe simple, with salt, pepper, lemon, nicely-sauteed shallot and garlic, and the almond milk. No obscure vegan ingredients needed for this lovely dairy-free spring pasta!
After blending up the white bean pasta sauce, warm it in the pan with the veggies and pasta until everything is thickened and heated through. Then top with a little sprinkle of fresh basil, plus some hemp parmesan if you like, and enjoy!
Creamy White Bean Pasta with Spring Vegetables and Basil
- 12 oz uncooked pasta (if you like your pasta saucy, use 10 oz. or less) (I use whole wheat bowties)
- 8 oz sugar snap peas trimmed
- 8 oz asparagus trimmed and cut into 2-inch segments
For the white bean pasta sauce:
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 2 shallots thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 1 and 1/2 cups cooked white beans (equal to 1 standard can)
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- 1 cup plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk (I recommend soy or almond)
- 1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt plus more to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
- hemp parmesan (optional, for serving)
- 1/4 cup loosely-packed fresh basil thinly sliced
- Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions. When there are about 5 minutes remaining, add the snap peas and asparagus to the pot with the pasta.
- Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid, and drain the rest (do not rinse the pasta).
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet or a saucepan, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced shallots and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 4-5 minutes or until the shallots are softened. Try to avoid browning.
- Add the shallots and garlic with their oil to a food processor along with the beans, nutritional yeast if using, almond milk, lemon juice, 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, and salt. Blend until smooth; add water or vegetable broth to help blend if needed. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt and pepper as desired.
- Return the pureed mixture to the pan over medium-low heat. Fold in the cooked pasta, vegetables, and reserved pasta water. Continue cooking just until heated through. Serve immediately, topped with fresh basil and hemp parmesan if desired.
- The bean sauce will thicken more and more as it cools and is best served right away. I recommend adding extra liquid and olive oil when reheating any leftovers.