Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus spears. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook just a few minutes until the spears are tender and bright green. Using tongs, immediately remove the asparagus from the water and place in a bowl of ice water. When they are cool, pat the asparagus dry with a kitchen towel and cut into bite-size pieces. Set aside.
Add the pasta to the same water used to cook the asparagus and cook according to the package directions. Drain and return to the pot.
Meanwhile, in a high-speed blender, combine the cashews, water, and lemon juice, and blend until completely smooth.
Add the asparagus to the cooked pasta in the pot. Pour the cashew sauce over the pasta and asparagus and toss well to coat. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed.
Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with parsley, if desired. Enjoy!
Blending cashews:If you don't have a high-speed blender, soak the cashews for a few hours or overnight before preparing the sauce.Nut-free option:Replace the raw cashews with raw sunflower seeds. Place the sunflower seeds in a small pot and cover them with water. Cover and bring to a boil, then adjust the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain the water from the seeds and proceed with the recipe.Variations:
For a more lemony flavor, zest the lemon before juicing it. Add half the zest to the blender for the sauce. Use the other half to sprinkle over the finished dish.
For a garlicky sauce, mince 2 to 3 cloves of garlic (or more). Saute the garlic in 2 teaspoons of olive oil for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Be sure to watch it carefully so it doesn't burn. Add the sauteed garlic to the blender for the sauce.
For a fresh herby flavor, add chopped parsley, tarragon, oregano, or your favorite herbs to the finished dish.
For a spicy version, add crushed red pepper flakes.
Storing:Leftovers can be covered and refrigerated for 3-4 days. Pasta does not freeze well. Reheat in a microwave-safe bowl. Add a few tablespoons of water if the sauce looks dry.