Comfort Food: Lemon Basil Fettuccini

By Alexandra Caspero on March 2, 2011

This past Saturday I had the food network on while I cleaned the house. The theme of the weekend, “comfort food.” Shows like Diners Drive-In’s Dives, Giada, and others were all dedicated to enriching everyday foods with all things “comfort:” cheese, cream, bacon, and butter. Which then got me to thinking, why is comfort synonymous with heavy, saturated foods?

Triple D showed the ultimate comfort food, two grilled cheese sandwiches on the outside of a double bacon cheeseburger. I hope I’m not the only one who didn’t get turned on by this or other types of ridiculous food. That just doesn’t appeal to me, and I’m not even talking about the hamburger part. Two grilled cheeses and a burger? No thanks, having to loosen my pants and popping an antacid isn’t comforting to me.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love treats. Cupcakes, brownies, creamy pasta all make me a very happy person and I enjoy them often. However, whats’ most comforting to me, is making a delicious, indulgent-tasting meal for others to enjoy. That also happens to be free of cholesterol, tons of fat… and bacon! Because, I love my family and friends. And while I want to make them feel good about what their eating, I also want their bodies to feel happy with their choices.

Which brings me to DK’s Comfort Food. Creamy fettuccine with lemon, basil, and roasted cherry tomatoes. Every bit as decadent as a traditional cream pasta without all the next-day bloat.

Creamy Lemon Basil Fettuccine

1/2 cup cashews, soaked at least 1 hour in water
1 cup + 2 tbsp. vegetable broth
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 large lemon
1 large handful basil
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp. Earth Balance butter
salt/pepper to taste
8 oz. whole wheat spaghetti or fettuccine
3 garlic cloves, sliced

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook to al-dente. While the water boils, prepare the sauce. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid and the drained noodles.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the vegetable broth and 1 tbsp. E.B. butter to the skillet. Add the garlic and stir constantly until the garlic becomes golden. Don’t burn!

Halve the cherry tomatoes and add them to the pan. As they begin to cook, press down on them lightly with a fork or potato masher until they “pop”. Allow them to soften, about 5-10 minutes. While the tomatoes are cooking, make the cream sauce.

In a blender, combine the drained cashews, 1 cup vegetable broth, and the zest and juice of 1 large lemon. Puree on high speed until all the cashew is creamed and no grainy parts remain. Depending on the power of your blender, this could take 3-4 minutes. Add to the pan with the red pepper flakes. Stir the cream sauce into the tomatoes and continue to stir until the sauce thickens, about 3-4 minutes.

Stack the basil leaves on top of one another, roll like a cigar and thinly slice from the end down until you have basil “ribbons”. Add this to the sauce with the reserved pasta and pasta water. Stir to combine and serve!

Serves 4. Per Serving: 218 calories, 12g fat, 4g fiber, 8g protein.

What’s your favorite comfort food?

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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    1. Morgan
      March 2, 2011 AT 5:53 pm

      YUUUUUUUM!!! Wow girl…this one looks so good to me, totally my type of food, and I absolutely love lemon and basil together. They are the perfect combo!