Raw Zucchini Alfredo

by Gena on September 7, 2010

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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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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Faith @ lovelyascharged September 7, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Couscous with vegan feta and tomatoes is handily becoming a favorite of mine…uber simple and satisfying, plus it hits all of the macro nutrients…I’m good to go!

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astrorainfall September 7, 2010 at 10:30 pm

I’m impressed that you came up with a post-holiday tip. You are so right. After a holiday, I tend to eat at a non-optimal level till I get myself to a grocery store which is usually the next day till after work. 24 hours without fresh produce makes me feel yuck.

Agree on the durable items tip. Also, I freeze bananas and berries so when I get home I can at least have a fruit smoothie. Hemp seeds are great too – no soaking needed so I can make a nut milk in a few seconds.

Bananas are easy to procure in Tokyo because most convenient stores stock them and they are open 24 hours a day plus they are on every street corner.

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Dorry September 7, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Love your tips – couldn’t agree more about an empty pantry after traveling. I’m always sure to have oatmeal and quinoa as well as canned beans, chickpeas or lentils. Then I stop for the fresh fruits and veggies asap. Sometimes on the way home from the airport. :)

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Ameena September 7, 2010 at 11:18 pm

I always make sure I have some leftovers in the freezer that I can easily defrost, that way I don’t have to worry about finding time to run to the store the minute I get back from a trip. Rice, quinoa, veggie burgers, etc. are quick and freeze well!

Great tips. Glad you liked Millennium Gena. It is one of my favorite restaurants ever!

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christyn @ All Ways Nutritious September 8, 2010 at 12:00 am

i have tried your zucchini alfredo and LOVED it! thanks for the tips. i usually juice whatever veggies i need to use up before i leave for a few days. its always nice coming home to food in the fridge and a clean house.

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) September 8, 2010 at 12:00 am

“Still, there are plenty of nights when I come home wanting something plain”–That’s like almost all nights (or days) for me. I find the older I get, the more I have found my food groove (not a rut, a groove!) that I just like what I like and it’s simple, uncomplicated, basic. That’s why my blog is filled w/ desserts; b/c they are far more interesting to me (and I think to others) than my same ole-same ole green bowls, they aren’t “creative” anymore, but they work for me. Just not great “blog content”. I posted about this last week b/c i was like hmmm, what to do b.c not all days are “amazing” in either life or food, but they are the stuff that is real and honest.

Anyway your travel tips…
Something to come home to that’s fresh but sturdy. I find carrots, celery, or hearty refrigerate-able veggies are nice. Grapes, apples, things that are fresh but last. The problem is when you’re going to be gone longer than 1-2 weeks and you come home and there is NOTHING and you’ve been eating out/gone for so long that all you want to do is have fresh, raw, food? Well, you go to the grocery store at 3am with your toddler :) And blog about it. Oh, yes, I have.

and you’re right, nothing beats that 1st grocery run pit stop after youre back home…ahhh, so nice!

:)

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Jenn (eating bender) September 8, 2010 at 12:03 am

Gena! I just read all of your San Fran posts and they made me so excited for our honeymoon! I can’t wait to see and experience many of the places that you did. Your writing was beautiful as always and the pictures were fun, too. Glad you made it home safe and love the before and after trip tips!

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Gena September 8, 2010 at 3:27 pm

So glad you liked! Can’t wait to hear about YOUR trip!

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pure2raw twins September 8, 2010 at 12:04 am

Dishes I turn to over again and again is some version of avocado pudding :) Love them!

Your pasta dish looks heavenly!!!

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Joanna @ landanimal.wordpress.com September 8, 2010 at 12:27 am

Oh this post makes me wish I had a veggie spiraler to make the zucchini pasta. My mom has one and when she makes squash or zucchini “pasta” it is AMAZING. It is so much lighter than real pasta. (You don’t eat it and feel like there is a brick in you stomach! But I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir on that. Haha). And raw sauces are the best too. I am going to have to look into this “using the peeler” idea.

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bitt September 8, 2010 at 12:29 am

When I feel up to it I love shopping. A clean fridge is a great chance to stock up.

I am a very monotonous eater sometimes. I return to buckwheaties and smoothies everyday. And the same balsamic and olive oil dressing. Some seed cheese, same dips. I do like to try new things but it’s nice when you can be at the store and know just what you need for a certain recipe.

Cashew alfredo-yum! That’s a oldie but goodie I need to resurrect.

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Lin September 8, 2010 at 12:39 am

I loved reading your San Fran posts! There are SO many vegan friendly restaurants and I want to eat at all of them (it’s funny that we were both there last weekend yet neither of us ate at any of the same restaurants)!

My number 1 travel tip is to stay hydrated and to pee before you board the plane. I absolutely hate airplane bathrooms ::shudders:: the suction toilets scare me!

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Ilana September 8, 2010 at 12:48 am

I make something freeze-able before I leave, usually soup of some kind, so I have SOMETHING to come home to just in case I just can’t stand the thought of running out to the grocery store the minute I walk in the door and put my bag down. Sprouted bread in the freezer, topped with nut butter is a quick fix, also frozen veg like broccoli or peas really make life convenient. I don’t usually buy frozen veggies but if I’m going away for a while sometimes I might pick up a bag right before I leave – again, just in case I’m starving when I get home but too exhausted to go to the store.

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Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg September 8, 2010 at 7:28 am

I love these tips– I always remember to clear out my fridge, but seldom think to stock the PANTRY!

This “alfredo” looks awesome– definitely bookmarking it.

Welcome home!

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Ricki September 8, 2010 at 7:49 am

I loved this post Gena–I can so relate to the quest for new recipes! I think it’s a constant tug of war for food bloggers: do I make something new (for the blog) or something old that I love (and haven’t eaten in ages–because of the blog)? There are so many “tried and true” recipes in our house that we haven’t enjoyed in a long time because I’m always on the lookout for the next new thing. I think I’ll go dig out some of those oldies but goodies this week!

And thanks for the tips for travelling–very helpful (now just wish I had somewhere to go!) :)

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melissa @ the delicate place September 8, 2010 at 8:52 am

how often would you say you use your spiralizer? i’m on the fence and not sure if it would be a “gadget” in my kitchen or if i would find myself using it often. tips for travel: always take out the trash before you leave! i usually clean my house prior to a trip so when i come home and crash leaving tons of stuff on my floor i’m not overwhelmed in the morning. i only have to clean up my suitcase stuff not everything else! good food tips!

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Gena September 8, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Actually, I don’t use it all THAT often. And in truth, I could make due with my mandolin. But you need one or the other if you want to do zuke pasta often. If I had to compare the two, I’d say a mandolin is a finer investment.

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GirlonRaw September 9, 2010 at 10:40 am

And I would also consider a julienne peeler if you wanted to just buy a mandoline as well. A julienne peeler is inexpensive and I used to make zucchini and carrot pasta with mine before I bought my spiraliser :)

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Ashley September 8, 2010 at 10:55 am

Spiralizer…. gotta check that out!

When it comes to a go to meal I am all about quinoa and beans! Its easy, taste good cold or hot, and is so easy to throw together!

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Lebkuchen September 8, 2010 at 11:23 am

Oooh, an oldie but goodie recipe! I’m totally with you on eating-everything-up before you go, and also making blended salads to use up stuff. My hubby, baby, and I go on a 2-night camping trip every other weekend so I’m familiar with this topic! The best advice I have is that I plan to have tons of light, nourishing, raw foods in the days leading up to the trip (raw soups, salads, etc.), planning my menu so that I’m using up as much stuff as possible. Also, by eating this way, I feel better (mentally and physically) indulging in some s’mores or cooked soups/stews or whatever. I also plan my menu and shopping list for the following week before I go – that way, when I get back, I can get right back to eating my healthy foods. Oh, and I always bring an avocado with me so I can put it on my Subway veggie sub on the drive back home :)

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Emily September 8, 2010 at 11:40 am

This recipe looks amazing, a wonderfully healthy way to have such a savory comfort food. Great tips on planning before and after trips!

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melissa September 8, 2010 at 11:58 am

great tips, and delicious raw pasta primavera alfredo! yum.

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Laura September 8, 2010 at 2:08 pm

my tried-and-trues are smoothies (banana nut chocolate or banana berry tofu), veggie burgers with Trader Joe’s naan, kale chips, and salad- recently apple-avocado-edamame. And coconuts… recently I’ve been drinking the water, then eating the flesh straight out of the coconut. Simple and delicious- and could definitely be stored for post-travel.

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Megan @ Healthy Hoggin September 8, 2010 at 2:16 pm

So glad you reminded me of your raw alfredo sauce! I’ve been meaning to try it, and now it’s fresh in my head again. ;)

Perfect timing for me with the post-travel tips, too! I’m getting back from a trip tonight, and have often fallen into the “trap” of spending too much money on food because my fridge is empty! I usually have some quinoa in my cupboards and frozen veggies in my freezer to whip up a simple veggie-quinoa pilaf, though!

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Griffen September 8, 2010 at 3:40 pm

this food looks simply AMAZING. i dont travel often, but a few times a year. these are such awesome tips for keeping healthy when you are getting home. thanks for sharing!

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Emily September 8, 2010 at 4:02 pm

really excited to try your spiralized zucchini recipe because i just got a spiralizer! i was amazed at how easy it was to use. raw alfredo, here i come! :-)

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MarathonVal September 8, 2010 at 4:42 pm

I love making kale chips to take with me on the plane… especially of the cheesy variety ;)

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Welovesuperfoods.com September 8, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Awesome blog, just discovered this! Pasta looks great. We love making raw hummus, raw salad dressings with sunflower seeds and almonds as base, and making creamy saucy versions of Indian dishes!! :)

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Michelle (Raw Housewife) September 8, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I try to make sure I have frozen fruit for a quick smoothie when I return from a trip. I also try to have some apples and carrots in the fridge before I go, since they tend to hold up well for a few days. I put a big blob of peanut butter on a plate and dip away. Glad you had such a great trip!

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BroccoliHut September 8, 2010 at 9:00 pm

I think I have a new excuse to use my spiralizer…

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Amelia September 8, 2010 at 9:47 pm

The editor didn’t edit her own work! I think you meant “these tips” instead of “this tips.” :) Cashew sauce sounds so good!

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Gena September 8, 2010 at 10:17 pm

In my defense, I’m an acquiring editor. Not a copyeditor :)

But there’s truly no excuse. And guess what? It’ll happen again. I just can’t have perfect grammar in every post, and I’ve stopped trying.

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Vivienne Westwood September 8, 2010 at 10:28 pm

all the delicious salads and wraps and dressings can make for us guys (and for me)

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kelsey@snackingsquirrel.com September 9, 2010 at 12:15 am

canned beans are always a great idea! time saver and wallet saver at the same time! I loved your past post with your lovely bike riding adventure and eats <3 so fun!!

xoxo

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GirlonRaw September 9, 2010 at 10:41 am

Awesome recipe Gena, I must have missed it the first time.

My ‘goto’ meals are usually some form of raw veggie pasta too!

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diana @ i can eat, can't i September 9, 2010 at 11:27 am

hi gena! i’ve commented and emailed you a few times but didn’t have my blog… now i do! it’s been incredibly fun.

i don’t really have tips except that if i have a lot of fruits hanging around, i’ll put them in the freezer so when i come back from a trip, i can used the frozen fruits and whip a smoothie!

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Kenzie (Healthy Purpose) September 9, 2010 at 12:14 pm

I made Rawvolution’s alfredo sauce and wasn’t super sold. Maybe I’ll add some miso next time like yours.

Good tips–I’ve been known to go grocery shopping and store goods in my work fridge too–you do what you have to do!

I NEVER get sick of massaged kale salad. that, hummus, and banana soft serve. otherwise im like you and constantly making NEW things.

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Tanya September 9, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Looks delicious, as always. Thanks for all the travel tips, as I have a few trips coming up as well. The one thing I make sure I have before I go on a trip (for my return), is an aseptic container of almond milk or something for my morning coffee….don’t want to have to make a run to the grocery store early in the morning! Oh, and just to make sure I have enough oat groats to soak or put in my rice cooker the night I return home, for the next morning’s breakfast.

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