This post was created in partnership with Califia Farms.
The kitchen renovation is in full swing. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting but I’ll tell you one thing: I wasn’t expecting for this process to be as taxing as it has been, especially considering we wound up hiring a contractor to man the project because gutting our space down to the studs (!) far exceeds our abilities (though the lady who came to remove + repurpose our old kitchen almost had me convinced we could harness the instructional powers of YouTube to do the damn thing ourselves). So although we’re not the ones doing any of the work (yet), we’re the ones who get text messages about concrete walls that won’t allow for proper mounting (so that’s why the previous owners glued the hanging cabinets to the wall) and a heads up that, “a 20 pound powder keg just came out of the stud bay and exploded on the ground.” Thankfully that white powder turned out to be diatomaceous earth (and is more annoying than it is harmful) and was not worth even 1/10th of the amount of stress it caused. Which, admittedly, had nothing to do with the fact that our place was covered in a superfine (and possibly toxic) powder and everything to do with the fact that I was concerned about the health and well being of our contractor.
Who, by the way, probably thinks I’m an overbearing basket case (and for the record: I totally am) but I’d like to think I get a free pass considering most of our belongings are covered in plastic drop cloths and everything we think we can’t live without is crammed into our 192 square foot bedroom. Which is where we’ve been living and where I anticipate we’ll be living until the kitchen is finished. It’s equal parts maddening and hilarious because 192 square feet is a tiny amount of space for two people, but I’ve somehow managed to turn it into our bedroom and living room and kitchen thanks to 1) clever storage solutions from IKEA and The Container Store (ok, and a few Costco boxes that got shoved in the top of our closet) and 2) a portable cooktop and snack-size refrigerator (both of which have made eating at home a breeze).
The good news? We haven’t succumbed to throw-away dinnerware or microwave dinners just yet (though the latter would be difficult considering we don’t own a microwave). But the bad news is I’ve been covering the cutting board with sheets of parchment paper so I have a feeling we’re not far off from disposable cutlery and things of the like. The other bad news? We’ve gotten into a few heated exchanges about my inability to clean up my messes, which means I should probably get it together because being a slob isn’t cool. Especially not when you’re confined to < 200 square feet with another human being who’s so tidy his half of the closet looks like an untouched and perfectly-folded corner of Neiman Marcus.
Anyway, let’s talk about this pasta for a minute because it’s been on heavy rotation since we started the renovation. Not only is it perfect served hot or cold, but making it is virtually painless (well, until I get to the part where I have to wash the dishes in the bathtub). However, it’s worth pointing out that I’m insanely particular about pasta noodles and their accompanying sauces. Semolina pasta (and other wheat varieties) is reserved for recipes that are meant to be smothered in hella olive oil/sea salt flakes/fresh cracked pepper and/or various tomato sauces (marinara, vodka, etc.). And brown rice pasta is reserved for experimental/non-traditional sauces like cashew fauxfredo (I’m not sure why I haven’t shared the recipe with you yet) and the sauce you see here. Just a little food for thought in the event you’re thinking about using one of the gluten-containing pastas.. or giving me serious side eye for using brown rice penne. ;)
Notes: If you don’t have hemp seeds, you can replace them with 1/2 cup raw cashews, but you’ll have to soak them overnight for maximum softness (especially if you’re not using a high-powered blender). The sauce was based off of my recipe for spaghetti with avocado sauce, so if you’d prefer a sauce that’s heavy on the avocado and doesn’t rely on seeds, give it a go. I rarely ever measure when I make this sauce so if you want to estimate and just throw everything into a blender, have at it. You really can’t go wrong (though be careful with the garlic because it’s easy to go overboard).
This post is sponsored by Califia Farms, maker of my favorite non-GMO + carrageenan-free almondmilk (amongst other delicious beverages). All opinions are my own, and I think Califia rules.
BROWN RICE PENNE WITH CREAMY HEMP SEED-AVOCADO SAUCE
2 cups fresh spinach leaves (or any leafy green)
1/2 cup (65g) hemp seeds
1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
1/2 small yellow onion
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup (104g) Califia Farms unsweetened almondmilk
2 tablespoons (32g) fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon (11g) extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (8g) nutritional yeast
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon (2g) fine sea salt
You’ll also need
8 ounces brown rice pasta, cooked
2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
Grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
Pinch of sea salt flakes
Add all the ingredients for the sauce to the base of a high powered blender (such as a Vitamix) and blend until smooth and creamy; about 1 minute. Transfer sauce to an air tight container and refrigerate until ready to use; will keep for up to five days. When you’re ready to serve, divide pasta between bowls and top with sauce (I like to go heavy on the sauce, but you could maaaybe get six servings out of this). Top with spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, hemp seeds, and season with salt and pepper. Sauce can also be warmed, if desired.
Yield: 4 servings