Whole-Grain Penne with Braised Kale and Cashew Alfredo

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Wellesley College
Wellesley, Mass.

This pasta recipe makes for a healthier but just as satisfying Alfredo sauce. Ground cashews are substituted for heavy cream, providing the same creamy mouthfeel and richness, while chopped kale adds contrasting color and texture. Nutritional yeast, a great source of protein and B-complex vitamins, packs a cheesy flavor into this nondairy recipe. For a vegetarian version, the yeast can be swapped out for grated Parmesan cheese.


3 lb. whole-grain penne
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 cups roasted salted cashews
3 cups water
3 tbsp. chopped garlic
Salt and white pepper
6 cups chopped kale
3 cups sliced button mushrooms
1 1/2 cups nutritional yeast
3 bunches fresh basil, julienned


1. Cook pasta for half the time indicated on package. Drain pasta and drizzle with some olive oil to prevent from sticking. Place pasta flat on sheet trays or hotel pans and cool in blast chiller. Alternatively, cool it down in walk-in cooler. Store in zip lock bags or sealed plastic container. Refrigerate and use within several hours.
2. In high-speed blender, puree cashews, garlic and water. Season with salt and white pepper. Set aside.
3. In large pot, braise kale and mushrooms until just tender. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
4. To serve, reheat about 1 cup pasta in simmering water. Drain and add it to skillet with 1/4 cup cashew sauce and about 1/4 cup braised vegetables. If using nutritional yeast, mix in 1 tablespoon. If using cheese, plate pasta and garnish with 1 tablespoon parmesan and some basil.

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