White sauce 3 ways…

The other day for my cooking class I had to make Cashew Béchamel Sauce and then had to make Pasta Carbonara for my assignment using the Cashew Béchamel sauce. Let’s just say that there was a LOT of the sauce leftover and since then I have been consummed with trying to come up with different ideas to use the sauce up which hasn’t been hard to do.

The Béchamel Sauce recipe is at the end of this post but I can’t give away all of the secrets for the Carbonara!  However, I have included two recipe ideas and hopefully will have another one tomorrow to share with you on different ways to use Bechamel sauce!

Pasta Carboara

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Last night we made pizza with white sauce.  I caramelized an onion, soaked some sun dried tomatoes and thinly sliced them, sliced up some black olives, defrosted some frozen spinach and opened a can of artichoke hearts. We had some pita’s in the freezer that we bought from Leyla’s, our favorite Lebanese restaurant in Charleston, and we each made our own personalized pizza’s.

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Tonight, I knew I wanted to use up the rest of the ingredients from last nights “pizza night”. My mind had already started working before I was even done eating dinner last night as to what I wanted to do with the leftovers!

1/2 to 3/4 pound whole wheat penne
the last 5-ish soaked sun dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
the rest of the artichokes, coarsely chopped
the rest of the black olives, sliced in half
the rest of the spinach
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
*1 small container capers with juice (optional)
1 cup of the Béchamel sauce
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup vegetable stock (approximately)
S&P to taste
**Smoked salt if you have it

Boil the pasta and cook per the directions on the package.   Save a couple cups of the cooking water before you drain it.

Heat a large heavy duty skillet over medium to high heat. Add a little bit of oil. Add the first 5 ingredients, the sun dried tomatoes through the garbanzo beans to a lightly oiled heavy duty large skillet. Heat until it starts to heat through and sticks to the pan. Add the wine and deglaze the pan and let the wine mostly evaporate. Lower the heat and add in the Béchamel sauce and some of the vegetable stock. Taste for seasoning and add a touch of salt, being careful not to over salt if you are using the capers.  Add the pasta and stir.   If  needed, add more vegetable stock or a little bit of the pasta cooking water to keep the mixture from being to thick. Right before ready to serve add in the capers , if using, and readjust the seasoning as necessary.

Once we served this we topped our bowls of pasta with some smoked Sea Salt from Bulls Bay Sea Salt that we bought last weekend at the Farmers Market on John’s Island.   (FYI…I’m not endorsing their salt, it is just what we had on hand). The added smoked salt took this dish from really good to over the top amazing!

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Cashew Béchamel sauce

Preparing the Cashews

2 cups raw cashews
4 to 6 cups warm water
Soak the cashews for 3-4 hours or overnight

1 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil (optional if you choose to use oil in this dish)
1 1/2 cups vegetable stoc
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp onion granules
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of white pepper
1 tsp sea salt (optional)

First, gather and prepare your mise en place.  Heat the pan to low to medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onions and sweat for at least 5-­8 minutes to bring out the flavor until translucent. Continue by then adding the garlic and sweat for an additional couple minutes.  Heat the pan to medium to high heat.  Try to keep the onions from browning, adding a little stock or water if needed. You can add the garlic to the onions or add directly into the blender.  Remove from heat. Transfer the cooked onions and garlic into a blender. To finish the sauce, add the cashews, the remaining vegetable stock, white wine, garlic, nutritional yeast, onion granules, nutmeg, white pepper and salt (if using). Blend on high speed until smooth. Add more liquid if you choose to have a thinner consistency.

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