I really enjoyed this assignment as it allowed me to play with new ways of introducing proteins into my diet without meat. I am not vegetarian, but spent 10+ years as a pescatarian. More…
I really enjoyed this assignment as it allowed me to play with new ways of introducing proteins into my diet without meat. I am not vegetarian, but spent 10+ years as a pescatarian. I actually love the flavor meats bring to the table but am trying to use it more of a garnish much of the time. I believe this recipe will become part of my go-to sauces with only one small modification. I would either omit the onion crystals altogether and add more fresh onion, or cut down the amount of onion crystals. It may have been a case of the quality of my onion crystals not being up to par, but I think that some additional fresh onion would not adversely affect the recipe as it may just make the sauce a little thinner in the end; which would not be a bad thing as it thickens up upon sitting.
To produce the final dish, a Penne Carbonara, I started the pasta. In the meantime, I brought a fry pan to medium–high heat; adding minced leeks and stirring until the leeks began to stick to the pan. I then deglazed with the white wine and continued to stir for about 2 minutes. I then added a cup of the white sauce to the sautéed leeks, stirring well. I did have to dilute the mixture as it had thickened up. At this point, I added some bacon that had been cut and cooked previously that I had in the fridge along with a 1/2 cup of peas. Yes, this did make the final dish no longer vegetarian, however it was in line with my focus on using meat as more of a garnish. I mixed thoroughly and brought the sauce to a simmer. I then added the penne and stirred to combine. After tasting, I added a bit of salt and pepper along with fresh parsley, stirred again, tasted one last time, and plated. The cashew white sauce was really smooth and satisfying; coating the penne perfectly.
I think that I could and would use this sauce for a riff on chicken tetrazzini that highlights the mushrooms. I think that I could actually omit the chicken altogether as the cashew/mushroom combination would be quite satisfying on their own. I also think that if I added a few spices, caramelized the onions a bit, and allowed the sauce to thicken even more, it would make a really quick dip for naan or pita.