This most important thing I learned in my cooking course was “mise en place.” Mise en place is a French culinary term which means “putting in place” as in set up. It is the way professional kitchens organize and arrange ingredients that are required for whatever is about to be cooked.
Usually I don’t prep, I just go. I chop and drop and sort of clean up the scraps as I go. This technique changed my cooking. It feels more organized now and it is really efficient. By the time I am actually ready to make the sauce or cook the meal, the measuring cups/spoons are in the sink, the peels are in the vegetable stock container, and the counter is clean. Then the cooking commences and dinner is served. When I go back to the kitchen now, there is minimal clean up.
Now to the recipe. On the Monday that Rouxbe.com launched the plant-based certification course, an article was written in Huffington Post featuring a great Meatless Monday recipes by our head chef Chad Sarno for Penne Carbonara with Cashew Béchamel. Here is my adapted version of the sauce. Check out both!
1 cup raw cashews, soaked 3 to 4 hours or overnight
1/2 cup diced onion
1 clove of garlic
1 cup water
The juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 tablespoon onion granules
Pinch of freshly-grated nutmeg
Pinch of white pepper
Pinch of salt
Organize the mise en place! Remember to drain the cashew soaking water.
Add the onions and garlic into a small pan with 1/4 cup of the water and cook until the onions soften. Drop them into the Vitamix (or blender) and then add the cashews, the remaining water, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and onion granules. Grate the nutmeg on the microplane over the top of the container and then add the white pepper and salt. Blend on high speed until smooth. Taste and adjust the flavor.
The sauce will last in the refrigerator for about a week. Mix into the carbonara recipe, with your favorite pasta and vegetables (my personal favorite is sautéed leeks with green peas), or with your favorite red sauce for a pink sauce. Enjoy!