Almond Alfredo Penne with Shiitake

This dish is easy, satisfying, and not overly rich. Almonds lend a clean creaminess that is lighter than using cashews. It’s perfect for an Alfredo. You don’t have to put it in a spaghetti squash bowl, but it’s autumn and I love cooking with seasonal foods and making my dishes beautiful. The shiitake mushrooms lend a meaty bit here and there.

Shiitake mushrooms host an impressive array of benefits. They are extremely popular worldwide for their meaty texture and medicinal properties. Known for their anti-infectious, antimicrobial, cancer fighting, and immune boosting properties, they are high in B vitamins and contain 13 vitamins and minerals that are necessary for metabolism, skin, brain, energy, gut, immune, and bone health. These mushrooms are also high in protein, fiber, contain all 8 essential amino acids, and are low in calories. Many studies have been performed on their unique chemical components and phytonutrients showing that they help protect DNA against oxidative damage (especially from anti cancer treatments), are anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, help lower cholesterol build up in the cardiovascular system and the liver, reduce inflammation, and control blood sugar levels and appetite.

As for almonds, they are taking over the vegan world, and with good reason. They are an energy dense food full of fiber, monounsaturated fats, riboflavin, phosphorus, calcium, iron, copper, arginine, manganese, antioxidants, protein, magnesium, and vitamin E.  They are popularly used for their oils, to make milks, creams, yogurts, almond flours, almond butters, and eaten raw. Full of healthy fats, they help lower cholesterol and curb hunger cravings throughout the day. They also are incredible for heart health, skin health, and brain function.

Almond Alfredo Penne with Shiitake

Yields: 2-4 people

  • 2 large gutted spaghetti squash
  • 1 box penne pasta
  • 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, or any other kind of mushroom
  • Almond Alfredo
  • 2 cups blanched or slivered raw almonds, soaked for at least an hour then rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups water, unsweetened almond milk, or finished pasta water (after straining)
  • 2-4 cloves grated garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • handful of basil (add only after the cream has whipped and then put on medium setting to blend the basil, leaving the basil specks rather than whipped green)
  • save some basil and slivered almonds for garnish

Cut the squash in half and roast it in the oven for an hour or more on 350F, or until it's soft enough for a fork to go through without resistance. Keep it in the oven with the heat off after it is cooked to keep warm until using.

Boil the pasta water and cook when it's ready.

Make the Alfredo and put it to the side.

Place the shiitake mushrooms in a large oiled skillet and start browning them on medium heat, adding a few tablespoons of water to it every here and there. It will get absorbed quickly and help the mushrooms keep their juiciness without overcooking.

Strain the pasta at al dente, leaving it firm to bite. Leave the pasta water to the side. Empty the into the same skillet as the mushrooms, add the alfredo, and toss it.

Take the squash out of the oven and fill it with the pasta. Garnish with a few of the almonds and chopped fresh basil.

  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Total time: 40 minutes
Almond Alfredo Penne with Shiitake
Almond Alfredo Penne with Shiitake
Almond Alfredo Penne with Shiitake
Almond Alfredo Penne with Shiitake
Almond Alfredo Penne with Shiitake

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