Nicole MacPherson: Meatless Mummy Con Carne


Springtime Classics: Creamy Pasta Primavera



There are so many wonderful things about Spring, the most notable being it marks the end of winter. In spring, I always think of the Ingalls family in The Long Winter, wan and pale and starving, seeing the tiny blades of green grass sprouting and being filled with hope.

Oh, Spring! It's such a happy season, with its feelings of renewal and growth, and with the sudden mildness that leads to the shedding of woolly layers. It's also the season for asparagus, one of my favourite vegetables.

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My husband grew up in a place where asparagus grew wild and he would pick bunches of it, in the early days of spring, eating it steamed with butter and black pepper. For me, in chilly Calgary, asparagus season starts when it goes on sale in the produce section, and then all I can think about is roasting it in the oven, bringing out its natural sweetness and flavour, and then incorporating it into every possible dinner until I get my fill.  

This pasta Primavera is packed with flavour and roasted veggies, and is creamy without cream! The sauce is made from canned navy beans, providing protein and iron to a classic pasta dish. 


Roasted Vegetables
1-250 gram package white mushrooms, quartered
1 bunch asparagus, woody stalks removed, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
1 red pepper, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
2 cups canned navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup almond milk (substitute soy or dairy for a nut-free option)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (see note below)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
4 teaspoons mixed-spice seasoning, such as Mrs. Dash
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups rotini, fusilli, bow tie, or penne pasta



  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini, and red pepper in 2 tablespoons olive oil, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes.

  In a blender or food processor, puree the beans, almond milk, nutritional yeast (see note below), lemon juice, vinegar, and mixed-spice seasoning until smooth and creamy.

  In a medium saucepan, saute garlic in olive oil until browned and fragrant, about two minutes. Add the bean sauce and cook until heated through, stirring occasionally.

  Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain.

  Toss cooked pasta and roasted vegetables together with the bean sauce until coated.

  Serve immediately.

  NOTE: Nutritional yeast - not to be confused with baking yeast -  is flakey, yellow, and adds a cheese-like flavour to a dish. It can be found in any health food store. If you do not have nutritional yeast, substitute 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (dairy or soy).

Yield: 4 servings

Want more asparagus? Try my Green Goddess Bowl or my Lemon Parmesan Oven Roasted Asparagus. Are you looking for more heart-healthy creamy pasta dishes? Try my Creamy Avocado Linguine!