Penne with Creamy Cashew and Spinach Pesto Sauce

5 from 4 votes
1 hour 10 minutes
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Penne with Creamy Cashew and Spinach Pesto Sauce is an easy, delicious, nutritious plant-based dairy-free and gluten-free meal that’s perfect for a weeknight yet elegant enough for guests!  I’ve got a great tip to make pesto oil-free so read on!

Thank you, Modern Table for sponsoring this post. This delicious, complete protein pasta is made from just three plant-based ingredients — Eat clean with Modern Table pasta today!

Photo of two bowls of Pasta with Creamy Cashew and Spinach Pesto Sauce on white background.

Hey, friends!  Sharing something very special I am loving and I think you’re going to love it, too!

When my husband and I want pasta, we always try to make the healthiest choice.  We love pasta but we don’t love all the simple carbohydrates regular pasta has.

I recently discovered Modern Table Complete Protein Pasta and it’s amazing!

Photo of two boxes of Modern Table Penne Pasta with pasta spilling out of one of the boxes.

Modern Table Complete Protein Pasta has 20 grams of protein per 3.5-ounce serving!  Wait.  What?

All Modern Table pastas are lentil-based and contain complete protein–meaning they have the 9 essential amino acids our bodies need for strong energy, good digestion and muscle health.

With only three plant-based ingredients, the plain pastas are vegan, non-GMO and gluten-free.  In addition, each serving has 5 grams of fiber.

Modern Table pastas are for those looking for a healthy lifestyle.  It’s the perfect way to get more nutrition from your meals–a blend of nutrition with the texture of tradition.  I was super-impressed with the texture–just like traditional pasta!

It’s simply beautiful food!

Photo of uncooked Modern Table Penne Pasta in glass bowl.

I used Modern Table penne pasta for this dish, however, it’s also available in elbows, rotini and spirals.

Photo of two boxes of Modern Table Penne Pasta with some in a glass bowl.

Let’s get started!  This Creamy Cashew and Spinach Pesto Sauce is completely vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free and oil-free!

How to make Penne with Creamy Cashew and Spinach Pesto Sauce:

  • Start with raw or roasted cashews.  Roasted cashews are easier to find and I like the extra layer of flavor the roasting provides.  If using salted cashews, you may not need to add additional salt later.
  • Soak 1 cup cashews in water.  You can do the soaking three ways:
    • A quick soak in boiling hot water for 30 to 45 minutes.
    • A soak starting with hot tap water for 2 hours.
    • A regular soak at room temperature overnight.

Photo of cashews on marble surface.

  • Reserve a little of the soaking water then drain the cashews.  Place the cashews in a mini food processor or blender.  Add a tablespoon or two of the soaking water then process to a thick sauce consistency, adding small amounts of water as needed.
  • Don’t worry if it’s not 100% smooth; it will be going into the pesto and a little texture from the cashews is just fine!

Photo of cashew cream in food processor.

  • Then, make the pesto.
  • Combine the pesto ingredients in a food processor or blender:  The spinach, more cashews, garlic, a little lemon juice, some crushed red pepper flakes for a little heat and here’s the oil-free tip….

⇒⇒⇒  To make this pesto or any pesto oil-free, substitute vegetable broth in place of the oil.  Vegetable broth adds flavor without the fat and calories of oil.

Photo of Spinach Pesto Sauce in food processor.

  • Stir the cashew cream into the pesto…

Close-up photo of Spinach Pesto Sauce in white bowl.

  • Cook the beautiful Modern Table penne per the package directions…

Photo of cooked Modern Table Penne Pasta in white colander.

Close-up photo of Modern Table Penne Pasta in white colander.

  • Place the penne back into the pot.
  • Stir the Creamy Cashew and Spinach Pesto Sauce into the hot, cooked penne.

Photo of Modern Table Pasta with Creamy Cashew and Spinach Pesto Sauce combined in cooking pot being stirred with wooden spoon.

  • Garnish with chopped cashews…
  • Serve!  So easy, so good and so good for you!

Photo of two servings of Modern Table Penne Pasta with Creamy Cashew and Spinach Pesto Sauce on white background garnished with cashews.

Close-up photo of Penne with Creamy Cashew and Spinach Pesto Sauce in white bowl.

With Modern Table pastas, you don’t have to give up the good stuff because the stuff you want is good.  Now you can have your pasta and eat it too!

Be sure to visit the Modern Table website for more information about all their products and to find their plant protein-packed pasta near you!

Photo of one serving of Penne with Creamy Cashew and Spinach Pesto Sauce with box of Modern Table pasta.

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Modern Table Pasta with Creamy Cashew and Spinach Pesto Sauce - Overhead shot of finished dish closer up

Penne with Creamy Cashew and Spinach Pesto Sauce

5 from 4 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef's Kitchen
Penne with Creamy Cashew and Spinach Pesto sauce is an easy, delicious, nutritious plant-based meal that's perfect for a weeknight yet elegant enough for guests!  Plus a great tip to make pesto oil-free!
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Pizza and Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6
Calories 241 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups cashews - raw or roasted, divided
  • Water - for soaking cashews
  • 1 container (5-ounce) baby spinach
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 3 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice - or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • 2 boxes (each 8-ounce) Modern Table Penne Complete Protein Pasta - (1 pound)

Instructions
 

  • Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add 1 cup cashews, turn the heat off and let stand for 30-45 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of the soaking water then drain cashews.
  • Place soaked cashews in a blender or mini food processor. Add 1-2 tablespoons of the soaking water. Puree the cashews until very smooth, adding small amounts of water as necessary until you have a creamy consistency.
  • Transfer cashew cream to a bowl.
  • Place 1/2 cup cashews, spinach, vegetable broth and garlic in the blender or in a food processor. Process to a paste consistency.
  • Add cashew cream to pesto and process until combined.
  • Coarsely chop remaining 1/2 cup cashews.
  • Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add salt if desired.
  • Stir in 2 boxes of Modern Table penne pasta. Reduce heat to medium-high (this minimizes foaming). Cook 11-13 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Drain. Add pesto sauce and stir to coat the pasta.
  • Serve in bowls, garnished with chopped cashews.

Notes

Alternately, soak cashews in hot tap water for 2 hours or in room temperature water overnight.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 241kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 124mg | Potassium: 286mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 103IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 3mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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Recipe Rating




5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I just loved the pesto. Since I cook for one, I had lots left over and am going to put it in a bowl tonight and whatever else I can think of. Thank you!

    1. Hi, Karin, Thanks so very much and so happy you love this recipe! You could pair it with potatoes, seared tofu or in rice. That’s one of the things I love about pesto! It goes with so many things. Thanks again!

  2. Such a brilliant recipe! We love pesto but other recipes have so much oil as the base that we rarely indulge. This recipe hits all the right notes. Thanks very much indeed for sharing!!

    1. Hi, Alka, Thanks so very much and so glad you enjoyed! I know what you mean about the oil. I have a personal chef client who does not consume any oils and I use vegetable broth in its place which works quite well so give that a try! Thanks again!