Every once in awhile, you come across a dish that changes everything. Something that radically alters the way you think about food. Much like the thrill of discovering the sneaky substitution of quinoa pasta for regular, or gluten-free, sugar-free black bean brownies, this vegan, avocado-based pesto has rocked my world. I’ve made it countless times since I discovered the original version, tweaking it each time.
Avocado, a dear friend of anyone looking for a creamy texture sans the dairy, is the star of the show. Even the most critical, picky eaters in our household have yet to suspect it’s anything less than a cheese-laden, straight-up basil pesto. This isn’t some funky-tasting Tex-Mex pasta masquerading as Italian food. This is honest, decadent-tasting vegan cooking at its absolute best!
1 lb. quinoa or whole-wheat linguine
2 avocados, peeled and pitted
5 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
½ cup pine nuts
leaves from 1 large bunch fresh basil, some leaves reserved for garnish
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¾ tsp. fine-grain sea salt
¾ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
one can 14 oz. cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 small package cherry tomatoes, halved
1.) Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
2.) While waiting for water to boil and/or pasta to cook, make the pesto. In a food processor, combine all ingredients from avocado through pepper in a food processor. Process until smooth.
3.) Toss hot, freshly drained pasta with pesto and beans. Garnish each serving with cherry tomatoes and a few leaves of fresh basil.