Creamy Sunshine Pasta Bake With Asparagus

Spring is finally here!  As a home cook, I am always absolutely giddy when spring arrives.  Let’s face it, for most of the country, January and February are not the easiest months for finding fresh seasonal produce. But with March came the first influx of fresh, exciting produce at my local market.  For me, there is no other vegetable that is more quintessentially spring than asparagus.  For this recipe, I wanted to use the asparagus in a dish that was warm and hearty because it is still cool (and sometimes darn right cold) outside during the evening.  I took inspiration from the sauce that I used with the Wild Mushroom Lasagna, and created a creamy, warm pasta bake that is loaded with vegetables and topped with toasted Shiitake Mushroom Sunshine Burgers.

Creamy Sunshine Pasta Bake 03182014

This recipe serves 4.


8 oz whole wheat rotini, cooked per package instructions, and strained
1 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 leek, washed and chopped
1 bunch of asparagus, stems trimmed, diced
Juice from 1 lemon
Creamy cashew sauce
1 package of Shiitake Mushroom Sunshine Burger, cooked or defrosted per package instructions

*For the sauce:
1 yukon gold potato, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cups broth
½ tsp salt, plus additional to taste
2 cups cashews
1 Tbs of Dijon mustard
garlic powder
Fresh basil (if available)

* Sauce inspired by Robin Robertson’s Mac and Chard from 1000 Vegan Recipes

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat 2 Tbs of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Add onions and salt and stir until the onions are translucent.  Add the diced potatoes and give a good stir.  Add 1 cup of vegetable broth and let simmer until the liquid is half reduced, and then add a second cup of broth. Cover and simmer with periodic stir breaks until the potatoes are tender.  When the potatoes are tender, remove pan from heat and set aside.  In a blender, blend cashews into a fine powder.  Add the potato and broth mixture, and Dijon mustard to the blender cup. Pulse and blend the mixture until a smooth sauce forms. Remove the blender cup from the motor and scrape the sides or add additional broth, if needed, to get the sauce blended.  Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste and set aside.

In a cast iron Dutch oven heat olive oil and garlic on medium heat until the garlic is fragrant. Continue to cook the leek and asparagus mixture until the asparagus is bright green, but still has a little bit of crunch. Add the lemon juice and stir for a few moments before removing the Dutch oven from the heat.  Add the pasta and creamy cashew sauce to the pan and stir until everything is evenly combined.  Crumble the Sunshine Burger on top of the mixture and place the entire Dutch oven into to the pre-heated oven with the lid off.  Cook in the oven for 13-15 minutes, just until the top begins to turn golden brown, and the Sunshine Burger is slightly toasted.  Let cool for 15 minutes, then serve, garnish with fresh basil, and enjoy!


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