So, this post is actually from last weekend. I started on it and another, but was so busy last weekend that I never had the opportunity to finish them. And I really wanted to share this post because it’s about Steve’s pesto, which was so delicious. So delicious.
Last Sunday I got a special treat. Steve made us lunch! It’s a special treat because sometimes it’s challenging to get him into the kitchen. But that’s another story. Even though I love to be in the kitchen playing with food, it’s really nice when someone else cooks me a good meal. Today Steve made us pasta and homemade pesto with seared asparagus and tomatoes for lunch. It was so delicious. But I’ve already said that.
Before I went plant-based, pesto pasta was something we enjoyed on a regular basis. Actually, one of Steve’s go-to meals was tortellini with pesto. It was easy and tasty and we could toss in any number of veggies. It’s also great added to my salads once it chilled in the fridge overnight. Unfortunately, both the tortellini and the pesto contained dairy, so it had to come off of the regular rotation until we could find tortellini that was vegan. Which we weren’t able to do. And, since this was one of Steve’s go-to meals, and was now off the list, it’s been even harder to get him in the kitchen.
I think we’ve found our alternative, though. And it’s so ridiculously easy I wish it would have come to us sooner. I mean, it’s not like we haven’t made our own pesto before, several times, in the last year. But I guess that’s how things work. Sometimes it’s just not the right combination of ingredients to make it into the rotation.
I’m not exactly clear as to why this came together so perfectly. One thing I suspect is the pasta. I love this pasta. It’s one of my favorites. It has such a nice bite to it, firm and chewy plus not too bulky. And it holds on to sauces really nicely. But I do not buy it often because a) I try not to have pasta in the mix too often and b) they don’t have this particular variety in the whole wheat/grain type at my local grocery. So, when you’re not using a certain product, it’s hard to realize it’s the perfect thing for a dish you make.
The other reason I think this all came together so well was because of the amount of olive oil we used in the pesto. Now, I’m not advocating for using such an amount, but it was really fantastic and I’m sure that is part of the reason why. The recipe below will not reflect the actual amount of olive oil we used because we didn’t actually write it down. But also because next time we will definitely use less. The recipe will say that you can adjust the amount based on your taste. And yes, while it was really good, I don’t think we needed quite so much. As long as you can taste the fruitiness of the olive and the pesto has come together nicely, that’s all you need.
So it just all came together this time. And it was perfect. Looking at these photos now, a week later, my mouth is watering. I want this again. Maybe I’ll get Steve to make it tonight for dinner. I didn’t record the recipe exactly. But that’s okay. It’s a standard pesto with a few tweaks that are optional. So go and make it. Make it tonight.
- 2 cups packed fresh basil
- 1 cup packed fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
- 1/3 cup mixed nuts (walnuts, cashews, almonds, pine nuts)*, toasted
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- Zest + juice of half a lemon
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 c. – 3/4 c. good olive oil**
Combine all ingredients, except the olive oil, into the bowl of your food processor. Secure the lid and pulse until the contents stop moving around freely. Turn the food processor to the on position and slowly drizzle in the olive oil until everything is purreed and mixed together, moving freely and loosely around the bowl.
Asparagus & Tomatoes
- 1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- Sprinkle of sea salt
Heat a large oven proof skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium high heat. Turn your oven on broil. Add the asparagus and tomatoes to your skillet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and toss to coat. Transfer the skillet to the oven and broil until the asparagus and tomatoes begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
Toss 1 pound of cooked gemelli pasta with the pesto sauce, coating well. Add the asparagus and tomatoes and toss gently with the pesto pasta.
*While most pesto recipes call for pine nuts, you can use other nuts instead. Walnuts work particularly well in a pesto. We tend to use what we have on hand. Which is usually a combination of walnuts, almonds and cashews. I rarely buy pine nuts. They’re outrageously expensive in my neighborhood.
**You may adjust the amount of olive oil you use to your liking. If you use less, add water until you reach the right consistency. The finished product should be loose enough to sauce your pasta, but thick and not watery.