Vegan Beet Alfredo with Lemon-Basil Ricotta

Vegan Beet Alfredo with Lemon-Basil Ricotta

Are you looking for a healthy yet comforting pasta dish that's fancy enough to serve at a dinner party? Or, are you just looking for a creative way to serve pasta that's always Instagram-worthy? Either way, I have a hot pink pasta that's creamy and cheesy that I think you'll like. 

I got the idea for this dish when I was at a restaurant last month and I ordered linguine as my main dish and had roasted beets on the side. I thought, wouldn't it be great if I could just combine these two into one dish? I considered asking the chef to accommodate my bizarre request, but my dinner companions insist that I behave myself. 

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So I came home and decided to experiment in the kitchen. Hence, this beet alfredo pasta, a combination of pasta and beets. Traditionally, an alfredo sauce is paired with fettuccine noodles, but my grocery store was sold out (the injustice!), so I used linguine noodles and it was just dandy. 

The beets add a unique sweetness to this dish, not traditionally found in pasta dishes, but with the right amount of salt and lemon, the sweetness adds the right balance. 

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What I love most about this dish is the hot pink color. Duh. But the next best thing is that this dish is relatively healthy for being a creamy pasta dish. First, beets are packed with tons of vitamins and minerals, fiber, beta-carotene, magnesium and antioxidants that support detoxification, fight inflammation, and ward off cancer. Second, the "ricotta" is made with protein-packed tofu and nutritional yeast.

And to make this dish even healthier, you can use whole-wheat pasta or even a bean-based pasta and serve it with a side of greens. I topped my dish with sliced avocado for more creaminess, basil for a light and fresh flair, and pumpkin seeds for a crunch. 

I hope you enjoy this fancy, creamy hot pink pasta! 

Vegan Beet Alfredo with Lemon-Basil Ricotta

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, diced 
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided   
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews 
  • 2 medium-sized beets, stems removed 
  • 1/2 of a lemon, juiced 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
  • Freshly cracked black pepper 
  • 1 cup "lite" coconut milk  
  • 1 pound linguine or fettuccine noodles (can use whole-wheat) 
  • Lemon-Basil Ricotta (recipe below) 

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425°F or 220°C. Scrub the beets and pierce them several times with a fork to enable even cooking. Rub 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil over each beet and then wrap in aluminum foil. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until fork-tender. Let the beets cool slightly. 
  2. While beets are cooking, prepare the tofu ricotta (recipe below) and cook the pasta. 
  3. For the pasta, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous sprinkling of salt and the the linguine and cook according to package directions. Drain pasta and return it to the saucepan.
  4. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Once hot, add the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened but not browned. Add the minced garlic and thyme and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. 
  5. Rinse out the food processor after making the lemon-thyme ricotta. 
  6. Transfer onion mixture to a food processor and add the cashews. Pulse until the cashews are a ground up and the onion mixture is finely minced. Add the beets, lemon juice, salt and pepper blend until you have a smooth sauce. With the motor running, stream in the coconut milk and blend until you have a thick and creamy sauce. 
  7. Toss the cooked linguine with the beet alfredo sauce and dollop with the lemon-thyme ricotta. 

Lemon-Basil Ricotta

Ingredients

  • 1 14-ounce container of firm or extra-firm organic tofu
  • 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large handful of fresh basil leaves 
  • 1 lemon, half of the zest and all of the juice

Directions

1. Place the tofu on a cutting board or plate and slice into chunks. Cover with a few paper towels. Place a heavy can of beans or several books on top of the tofu to press out the excess water. Do this for at least 15 minutes, ideally 30 minutes.

2. Crumble the pressed tofu into large chunks and put in a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until you have a creamy texture like ricotta cheese. Taste for salt, acidity, and cheesiness, adding more salt, lemon juice, or nutritional yeast, respectively, as needed.