Comfort Food! Creamy Pasta with Peas
There’s nothing more satisfying than a big bowl of “comfort food.” Whether it’s mac and cheese, spaghetti and meat balls or steaming hot bowl of soup, comfort food warms us inside and out. My personal list of comfort foods includes a variety of things… ice cream, hot chocolate and the occasional chocolate chip cookie. But the one food that tops all others , the king of comfort to me, is a big bowl of cheesy, creamy pasta.
Pasta is something that reminds me of home, my parents, and enjoying family dinners together at our kitchen table. A little bit of childhood (and Mom) shining through in each bite. Whenever I eat it, I just get the sense of being comforted. A simple bowl of spaghetti and marinara sauce usually does the trick. But sometimes, I’m kinda in the mood for something slightly more “comforting.” Ya know…with cheese! Pasta with any type of creamy, cheesy sauce gives me that soul-warming hug I’m looking for. And besides, what cheesy creamy food isn’t comforting?!
If I’m stressed out and in need of a little comfort, pasta is my go to meal of choice. Like lately, I can’t say I’ve been the most relaxed and un-stressed person ever (due to my continuous and very anxious job search and/or lack of job). The pasta craving center of my brain (yea..I got one of those) has been screaming for this starchy goodness for the last week. In reality, I’m very well aware that 7 days of cream and cheese filled pasta dishes doesn’t fit into the whole nutritious lifestyle. Eh…not really an everyday meal. So I figured I needed to come up with a “health-ified” version of my comfort dish (or at least until my job anxiety dies down).
This is where the genius of vegetarian cooking comes in. My sub for a creamy cheese sauce is my walnut alfredo sauce (see this blog post that talks all about it). Filled with healthy fats, protein, and tons of vitamins and minerals, you can’t go wrong with this nutty sauce. And it has the same mouthfeel, texture and flavor as a regular ‘ol alfredo sauce – just sans the cream.
This time, I decided it’d be a pretty darn good idea to add in a bunch of fresh herbs and some garlic. This was such a good idea! Herby, creamy, delicious wonderfulness! You’d never miss the heavy cream in this dish. This herb-filled walnut alfredo sauce – one of the BEST comfort foods out there! It gives you all the warm fuzzy feelings without adding any inches to your waistline. Killing two birds with one stone right there! I highly suggest serving this in a big bowl while wearing comfy sweat pants and fuzzy socks!
- 1/2 lb of short cut pasta
- 1 cup plain walnuts
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 cup packed basil, tarragon and fresh oregano (equal amounts of each)
- ½ tsp each salt and pepper
- Lemon juice – from ½ a lemon
- ½-3/4 cup very hot water
- 1 cup peas
- In a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta according to directions. Save about a cup of the starchy pasta cooking water.
- In a food processor add in the walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, herbs, salt and pepper. Process until nuts are very finely chopped – almost bread crumb consistency.
- Turn on food processor and with machine running, slowly add in the hot water until mixture has your desired consistency of alfredo sauce. The sauce should start to become thick and creamy white. Stop every now again to check the consistency and scrape down the sides of the bowl. You may not need all of the water – it depends on how thick you like your alfredo sauce.
- Toss sauce, peas and cooked pasta together, stirring to combine. If sauce is too thick add a little bit of the reserved starchy cooking water until you reach your desired consistency.