Create a vegan alfredo for this mushroom saute with garlic cashew cream sauce.

I love morels, porcini, oyster, chanterelle, black trumpet, shitake, crimini, and portobello mushrooms. Each has a distinct flavor, texture and unique medicinal properties that create delicious decadence.

But they are expensive and hard to find. And while I’m adventurous, I’m not qualified to grow or search for them, so I’m forced to consider them a delicious treat when I run across them.

But I’ve recently discovered that they can be purchased dried and then rehydrated, with the added bonus of flavor-packed mushroom broth that can be a soup starter or sauté enhancer. They are often a fraction of the cost, stored indefinitely, and can be BETTER tasting than fresh. This is because when they are dried, their flavor becomes more potent, taking on a smoky tang. Many professional chefs use dried!

Mushrooms are a great addition to a vegan diet (or any diet!). They generally are high in vitamin B and iron, as well as trace minerals, and antioxidants that aren’t destroyed in a short cooking process. And if you rehydrate them in a sunny window, they actually MAKE vitamin D, much like our own skin. Nutrient levels and immune boosting-benefits are not affected by the drying process, so feel free to stock up!

Premium Mushroom Blend or bulk Dried Porcini Mushrooms are available through the Great American Spice Company. The blend is a bit pricey, but worth it as you get an eclectic selection. And you can make them last a long time! Once rehydrated, mushrooms balloon to 3 times their dried state, so less is more.

Boil plain water and pour over dried mushrooms in a mixing bowl. Add enough to have about an inch of water over the mushrooms. Let them soak (in a sunny window if possible) for 20-30 minutes until they are tender.

In a skillet, sauté additional vegetables of choice. I recommend kale, chard and/or spinach, zucchini/summer squash, sweet peppers, onion, and a few cloves of freshly chopped garlic. If you’re not sure how to quickly chop your own garlic without a lingering smell on your fingers and watery eyes, click here for my 30-second instructional video on why and how to chop garlic.

Morel Mushroom Ingredients

You absolutely do not need to add oil when you sauté, as there will be plenty of flavor to come. Just cover with a bit of water, add seasonings, and stir until veggies are tender but still brightly colored with a bit of crunch. Seasonings I added were 1 tbsp each of oregano, basil, parsley, thyme and red pepper. Of course if you have fresh herbs, chop and add to sauté.

Cook pasta of choice according to package directions. I like Farfalle Pot Pie Bow Noodles (egg free) because it’s very light in texture and flavor. Add salt to the boiling water, and the subtle flavor will pop.

For the vegan alfredo sauce, use cashews. Skip the butter, cheese and dairy cream filled with saturated fat, cholesterol and ridiculous calories. Cashew cream is filled with fiber, protein, omega fatty acids, B vitamins and iron. No cholesterol. No saturated fat. Half the calories. Exponential benefits.

You’ll need nutritional yeast flakes to create the pungent, cheesy bite. If you live close to a health food store, you’ll find them there. I have also found them on Amazon, and usually add them to lower dollar orders to qualify for free shipping. Stock up, as once you make this, you’ll wake up in the middle of the night thinking of new ways to use it (or is that just me?). Check out my other cashew cream recipes and be prepared for the onslaught of encore requests from those who are lucky enough to taste the genius.

Soak 1/2 lb of cashews in water for about 2 hours. (They plump up just like dried beans and turn white…perfect for cream!) Drain and put them in a blender. Cover with water plus about an inch. Puree for about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of yeast flakes, 4- 5 cloves of fresh chopped garlic, 1 tbsp ground mustard, and 1 tbsp each of oregano, basil, thyme, parsley, sea salt and black pepper. Puree for another minute or until thoroughly blended. Taste it with your finger and fine tune as needed. I usually add a bit more salt.

Pour the vegan alfredo sauce over the warm veggies, add the soaked mushrooms…liquid and all, and heat for another few minutes. If it’s a bit runny, cook until desired consistency is reached. Stir frequently.

Serve over the pasta. Take compliments graciously.