Raw Zucchini Alfredo

Happy Tuesday, guys. Hope it wasn’t too hard getting back into the grind. I felt quasi-paralyzed this morning with back-to-work malaise, but now I’m up and running as usual. Miss any recaps of my San Fran trip? Fear not! You can find my recap of lunch at VegNews HQ here., my review of Cafe Gratitude and the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market here, biking to Sausalito here, and my epic dinner at Millennium here. Fun times!

Of course, part of the joy of any trip is the joy of coming home. For me, that joy is inexorably bound to being back in action in my kitchen. This was without a doubt one of the best foodie vacations of my life, but I always miss the opportunity to cook. And there’s no better way to ease into the rigors of the work week than with a soothing, home cooked meal.

When you write a food blog, you become obsessed with recipe creation. Or at least, I have. Each week, I think of all the delicious salads and wraps and dressings I can make for you guys (and for me). This isn’t a burden—I think it’s fun to create these dishes. And of course, recipe development never interferes with my tastes and cravings. You guys get Gena food no matter what. Still, there are plenty of nights when I come home wanting something plain—a big salad with avocado, or kabocha squash and steamed veggies with tahini dressing, or collard wraps with nut pate, or a hummus sammie, or raw soup and veggies—and instead, I opt to make something shiny and new. 90% of the time, I’m glad I did. 10% of the time, I’m sorry I didn’t just go with comfort fare.

Another consequence of my eternal quest for new recipes is that I’m sometimes hesitant to resuscitate old ones. But tonight, after leaving the office on the late side, I had an intense craving for my cashew alfredo, and I know that no other dish would sate me.

I’ve posted this recipe before, but it’s so delicious, I’m going to post it again. For new CR readers who haven’t tried it, this dish is one of my all time favorites (and one of my favorites to make for guests). I can’t recommend it enough—if nothing else, make the sauce! It can be served over veggies, in vegan burritos or tacos, or on regular ‘ole pasta.

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Raw Zucchini Alfredo with Basil and Cherry Tomatoes

For the pasta:

Spiralized zucchini noodles (or just use a peeler)
Small chopped carrot
Sugar snap peas, cut in half (about 3/4 cup)
Baby tomatoes, halved (I used lots)
Fresh shredded basil
A small handful of chopped, sun-dried tomatoes

For the sauce:

1 ¼ cup cashews, soaked for a few hours (I just put them under water when I left for work in the morning)
¾ cup water
1 tsp agave
1/3 cup lemon juice
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp miso

1) Spiralize the zucchini into pasta and toss it with the veggies. Tonight, I actually used button mushrooms, carrots, red pepper, and sun-dried tomatoes.

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2) To make the sauce, put the soaked cashews in your Vita-Mix or food processor along with the agave, lemon juice, sea salt, miso, and 1/3 cup water. Blend until it looks thick and creamy. With the motor running (in either the processor or the Vita), drizzle more water in until the sauce is totally smooth (if you’re using a food processor, you’ll have to stop and scrape sides occasionally) and the consistency you want.

3) Toss about 1/4 cup of the sauce with a heaping bowl of the veggies…

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and voila: you’ve got a creamy, delicious bowl that (at least in my mind) surpasses the original dish. This got served with a halo of arugula salad and a generous sprinkle of nooch—a perfect pairing for an Italian dinner dish.

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Sometimes, it’s good to eat what you know you like. Over, and over again :)

Before I go, I wanted to give you a few tips for returning from vacation. No these, aren’t ways to make the paper stack on your desk any shorter—though I wish I had such insight! They’re kitchen planning tips. See, everyone writes about planning for vacation—which snacks to pack, how to eat on the go, etc. But we very seldom read about a part of travel that’s every bit as important: planning for before and after your trip. The key here is to empty out your fridge as much as you can before you leave, but to make a few durable items that’ll be waiting for you when you return. And as soon as you get back, it’s important to get right back into the kitchen groove—else you’re likely to waste money on store bought food. Here’s how I handle it.

Before Your Trip:

  • Finish up all greens and veggies. If there’s a lot on hand and they look ready to spoil, throw them into blended salads.
  • Make one salad dressing you know will last till after your return—most vinaigrettes will keep nicely in the fridge.
  • If you’ll only be gone for 2-3 days, make a batch of sturdy nut pate (like one made with almonds).
  • Have canned beans, pasta, and grains in the house so that you can organize some dinners when you return from your fridge. No one likes coming home to an empty pantry!
  • Make a batch of buckwheat crispies.

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When You Return:

    • Immediately make a few quick staples. Last night, at 10:41 p.m., I whipped up one batch of hummus and one batch of my dilly sunflower cheese (fast becoming a serious favorite of mine).

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  • Make a shopping run ASAP. As you know, I often work at night or stay at work late, so for me, this wasn’t an after-work option today. Instead, I hit the health food store near my office on my lunch break. It was inconvenient, and I’d rather have powered through lunch or enjoyed an hour to read the paper, but it was worth it. If I hadn’t gotten adequate groceries, I’d have ended up spending unnecessary money all week long.

See? Planning the start and end of your trip is as significant as planning its duration. Hope these tips are helpful!

Tell me: what are the dishes you return to again and again? And anyone have pre- or post-travel tips to share?

xo

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