When I am asked ‘what should we have for dinner?’ The first thought that comes to my mind is noodles with pesto. It isn’t just quick and easy to make but fits perfectly for every day of every season. It doesn’t just go well with pasta but can also be eaten with toast, potatoes, with fish or as a flavoring for a dip or creamy sauce.
What is Pesto?
Italy comes straight to my mind when I hear the word Pesto. Such an amazing classic of Italian cuisine. Traditionally it originates from Liguria and the name pesto derives from the word “Pestare” which means to pound/to crush. This uncooked sauce usually consists of olive oil, ground fresh herbs, pine nuts or walnuts and parmesan or pecorino, which is the typical Italian “Pesto alla Genovese”. The ingredients are pounded with a mortar and pestle (you can also use a food processor or hand blender – same results 😉 ) until a nice and creamy consistency is achieved.
Pesto is cold-processed which gives it its intense flavor. Pesto lovers not only enjoy the basil version but also a variety of alternatives as you can also use other ingredients, such as dried tomatoes, wild garlic, parsley, arugula or mint. You can also use other nuts and seeds such as walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds or cashews.
Nowadays you can buy ready-made pesto. While these can taste good, there are products that use cheaper oil, stretch the cheese proportion with potato starch or add additional sugar or flavoring. So to avoid this, always check the ingredients or just make your own. Let’s be honest, nothing beats a homemade version and like I already said, it is super easy to make. Besides you can let your imagination run free and add whatever nuts, oil or cheese you want and if you prefer a vegan version just replace the cheese with nutritional yeast.
Creamy Avocado-Basil Pesto
While pesto can be packed with healthy fats it does have quite some calories with all that oil that is used 😉 At least ¼ cup of oil is used for a pesto recipe! So if you’re up for a lighter version, avocado is a great alternative to oil and adds a creamy silky consistency.
This creamy vegan basil avocado pesto is just amazing. Super creamy, nutrient-dense and loaded with healthy fats.
Ingredients (4 servings)
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- ½ a ripe avocado
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons of pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon of cashews ( I like to add both pine nuts and cashews)
- Juice from half a fresh lemon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
- salt to taste
- 1 lb (500g) pasta noodles
Preparation (20 minutes)
- Roast nuts in a pan.
- Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until a nice and creamy consistency is achieved.
- Add water to smoothen the consistency if the pesto is still too thick.
- Store in an airtight container and refrigerate (use up within three to four days).
- Cook pasta according to your liking.
- Add pesto and garnish with mozzarella or cocktail tomatoes.
Convinced with this recipe, then try out the intense and flavourful wild garlic pesto.