09 March 2012

Pasta: Vegan Avocado Pesto Pasta

English: avocado open
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From Denny:  Looking for great vegan recipes?  Even if you are not a vegetarian or a vegan, it's always a good idea to give your body a break from food that is hard to digest, like meat and dairy products.

It's a kind of fasting that does wonders for increasing your energy level and encourages better sleep.  One meal a week, or if you are feeling ambitious, one day a week is an easy way to try out a new way of looking at and cooking food.



For me and my house it's all about the taste.  If it tastes incredible then we keep the recipe, no matter if it is vegan or vegetarian.  Little by little I've managed to win over my husband, the meat and potatoes kind of guy.  He is willing - and even requests - certain veggie side dishes, eating them first before looking at the meat, fish or cheese dish.  As a result he eats a lot less meat and feels really good.

You know you have the texture right and the spices kicked up if a meat lover will choose to eat veggies.  We now enjoy meatless days every week since I started experimenting with red lentils and tons of spices as a filler for corn tortilla tacos heaped with sauteed onions or spicy sauteed cabbage.  It's his favorite snack.

Another benefit to less meat in your diet, besides saving lots of money for the family budget, is you will find your mood elevates.  Read that as less grumpy.

I had to laugh when I saw Chef Gordon Ramsey's episode when he visited India.  He managed to insult every poor soul he met.  Fortunately, they were patient with his ignorance about increasing the vegetables in his diet.  By the end of the show, after visiting a very nice guru's ashram, he finally realized that there are some kick ass vegan and veggie dishes that are worth the cooking and eating.

In this vegan dish, the avocado is used as a creamy ingredient to replace the cheese.  Think of all the skin-nurturing vitamin E!  Other than the substituting of avocado for cheese and vegan margarine for butter or regular margarine, the pasta dish is the usual familiar Italian pasta of fresh basil, pine nuts and garlic.  Give it a try and see how your family likes it.

From this video clip is also the vegan cookie recipe over at my chocolate blog:  Chef Cookies: Cinnamon-Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies



Avocado Pesto Pasta

Servings: 4 to 6

From:  Chloe Coscarelli, chef and winner of Food Network's "Cupcake Wars"
Ingredients
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, reserve some leaves for garnish
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2 avocados, pitted and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes or sliced sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
Directions
Put a healthful California twist on a traditional Italian favorite and you’ve got Avocado Pesto Pasta. Adding avocados to pesto creates a rich and creamy texture without using cheese. Kids and adults often tell me this is the best pasta they’ve ever eaten!
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add linguine and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, make the pesto by combining basil, pine nuts, avocados, lemon juice, garlic and oil in a food processor. Process until smooth. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Toss pasta with pesto. For an extra touch of color and flavor, top pasta with cherry or sun-dried tomatoes. Divide pasta among serving bowls and garnish each serving with a basil leaf.


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