I never thought of making sauce out of almonds until I saw Giada DeLaurentis do it on the Food Network. I smacked myself on the head because it was such a sensible solution to a cream sauce-intolerant palate (not that I can help myself from occasionally indulging in the occasional beurre blanc or vodka sauce).
Although this sauce is creamy, there is nothing in it for consistency except almonds and water. It does get a bit kicked up after a few days in the fridge – if you keep the pasta and sauce separated, you can whisk in extra water to thin out the sauce for later meals.
Portabella & Asparagus Pasta with Lemon Almond Cream Sauce
Original Recipe, method inspired by Giada DeLaurentis
1 pound rigatoni pasta, cooked al dente
2 large portabella mushrooms, sliced into 2-inch pieces
10 asparagus spears, quartered
10 basil leaves, chiffonade (roll up like a cigar and slice into strips)
2 cups blanched slivered almonds
2 cups water
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp salt
1 T black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with foil (one for mushrooms, one for asparagus). Toss mushrooms and asparagus separately in olive oil. Roast asparagus until barely tender, about 4 minutes. Roast mushrooms until browned, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
Blend almonds and water in a blender until smooth (might be slightly grainy). In a medium pot, bring to a simmer and add lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
Toss sauce with pasta, mushrooms, asparagus, and basil.