My three teens and husband couldn’t stand asparagus. For 16 years, I would never cook it at home. Determined to put an end to this asparagus antipathy, I created a dish so delicious that asparagus is no longer banned in our house!
I knew a cheesy sauce would win them over, but being vegan, I had to come up with something creative. I used miso and artichoke hearts to mimic the salty umami quality of Parmesan cheese, and blended cashews for a smooth texture. This vegan creamy sauce is addictive, healthy, versatile, not to mention how quick and easy it is to whip up.
Nutritional yeast is another ingredient I sometimes use for imparting a cheesy flavor to this sauce. It has the added benefit of enriching the sauce with vitamin B12. Substitute 1 tablespoon miso called for here with 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast if that’s what you’ve got on hand.
Artichoke hearts are available canned in water or jarred in olive oil and spices. The oil-based marinated hearts are much more flavorful, but both varieties work for this recipe.
Make sure to soak the cashews before blending, especially if you don’t own a high-speed blender. You can refrigerate them overnight in water to cover or use the quick soak method detailed in this recipe.
For those of you wedded to snapping your asparagus stems instead of cutting, please be advised that this isn’t the best method for removing those woody ends. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t snap in a built-in natural breaking point. A lot of perfectly edible asparagus is wasted this way. Instead, line up the spears and cut off the hard ends with a chef’s knife. This is usually where the stalk’s green color starts fading to white. —Nisha Melvani
unsalted raw cashews
extra-virgin olive oil
finely chopped, plus 2 whole small garlic cloves
(about 18 spears), ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh lemon juice (from about 1 large lemon), divided
unsweetened non-dairy milk
(14-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained, and coarsely chopped
- In a small saucepan, cover the cashews with water to a depth of about 2 inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and let soak for at least 10 minutes. Alternatively, soak the cashews in room temperature water overnight in the refrigerator.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Cook the chopped garlic, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the asparagus and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minute more, until bright green; season with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and steam for about 2 minutes, until the asparagus is just tender, being careful not to overcook. Uncover and set aside until ready to use.
- Transfer the drained cashews to a blender. Add the milk, miso, onion powder, 2 whole garlic cloves, the remaining 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, and ¼ cup water. Blend on high speed, adding more water if needed, until completely smooth. Pour the sauce into the skillet with the asparagus. Add the artichokes and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until warmed through. Adjust the seasoning as desired. Serve immediately.