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The cashew cream makes this Creamy Chicken and Penne a la Vodka recipe recipe dairy-free.

"This recipe is adapted from Rachael Ray’s "You-Won’t-Be-Single-For-Long Vodka Cream Pas-ta," one of the first Rach recipes I ever remember cooking! On days when I’m feeling indulgent, I’ll use heavy cream like the original recipe calls for, but on days when I’m eating a bit healthier, I substitute the heavy cream for homemade cashew cream. I dare you to be able to tell the dif-ference! That simple swap makes this recipe dairy-free and pumped with protein!


  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 pound penne (I prefer whole wheat, farro, quinoa or brown rice pasta)
  • 15 basil leaves, chopped or torn
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving
  • 1 cup arugula, optional


Serves: 6


Add cashews to a small bowl and cover with water by about an inch. Soak for at least 1 hour or up to 8-10 hours.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

In a large, high-sided skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in chicken and sauté until browned, about 4-6 minutes. Remove from pan and reserve.

To the same pan, add remaining tablespoon olive oil and shallots, and sauté until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add in garlic and sauté until it starts to brown, about 2-3 minutes. Carefully deglaze the pan with vodka and let it reduce by half. Add in stock, tomatoes and chicken. Bring the sauce a bubble then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta until al dente.

Drain and rinse cashews. Blend until smooth and creamy, carefully adding water to achieve de-sired consistency—be careful not to add too much. Reserve.

Drain pasta and return it to the hot pot. Remove vodka sauce from heat and stir in cashew cream, basil and chicken. To serve, top with cheese and garnish with arugula.