Dreamy Avocado Pesto/Fredo

It’s rare these days for me to cook a meal for just one or two nights. For that last couple of years it’s been far better financially and nutritionally to batch cook my meals just once or twice a week and reheat for each meal (except in the summer when I crave garden fresh veggies in pastas and salads). But when I was looking around the internet for what to make earlier this week and stumbled upon this pasta, I had to have it.IMG_7508

I’ve only ever had one vegan version of Alfredo sauce in the last five years so all of my other pasta has either been made with tomato sauce, vegan becel and nutritional yeast, or oil and herbs. I’ve made vegan pesto twice but since I don’t have a great, full-sized food processor, the process is labour and mess intensive. My jaw dropped when I laid eyes on this creamy creation.

You can call it avocado pesto because that’s exactly what it tastes like, but the creaminess adds an Alfredo-type richness to it that is outstanding. And it took longer to boil the pasta than to whip up the sauce, so if you’re looking for a quick and delicious pasta for supper, this is a winner!

But wait…how on earth do you choose a ripe avocado? Luckily I learned this years ago since my moms have been making deliciously simple guacamole for snack time since we were young. But I remember the mystery involved in picking them out at first and since they’re not as common as apples and bananas in a lot of kitchens, I know a lot of other people find them equally mysterious. The thing that has taught me the most has been the trial and error process over the years of buying them and realizing when I cut into them that they are either not ripe yet (obvious in their hardness, their lack of rich avocado flavour, very pale green flesh, and shiny froggy green skin) or too ripe (obvious in their very soft, almost yellowing flesh with brown spots or streaks running through it and their thin, almost pierceable, sometimes dented, dark purple skin). This means that the perfect avocado is somewhere in between these two extremes – a darkening green or purple semi-firm skin that gives on the surface under a light squeeze but otherwise holds its firmness and its lovely almost uniformly green flesh inside – not whitish or yellowish. Once you get to know them and get the hang of it, you’ll never mistake the taste and texture of a perfectly ripe avocado again.

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The only possible downside to this dish is how heavy it is. I used linguine and made the sauce according to the recipe, which makes for a dense and heavy dinner – perfect for a cold wintery evening, maybe not so perfect for the light days of spring and summer. I think you could lighten it up by using less oil and subbing in some water. The avocados will keep it impossibly creamy and it might mix up with a little less fuss too. And speaking of the light days of spring and summer, I’m probably definitely going to try using this as a dressing for cold pasta salad.

I found the recipe at damndelicious.net. I didn’t have corn or cherry tomatoes in the house so I subbed in fresh spinach and fresh diced tomato. The beauty of this is that you can make it with any pasta and veggies you want – tomatoes, corn, spinach, asparagus, sweet bell peppers, mushrooms. Even some diced up vegan ‘chicken’ pieces would work. So be creative, use up what you’ve got in your crisper, and enjoy!IMG_7511

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz pasta of your choice
  • 2 ripe avocados, halved, pitted, and scooped (set pits aside)
  • 1/2cp fresh basil leaves
  • 2 big cloves of garlic
  • 2Tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3cp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 – 2cp veggies of your choice

Directions:

  • Get your pasta cooking
  • Meanwhile, put avocados, basil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and oil into your food processor or blender (I used my nutribullet) and mix/blend until smooth.
  • Taste it. (Mmmmmm). Season with salt and pepper as necessary.
  • Drain and rinse your pasta with cold water and either return to pot or a warm skillet with a bit of oil and toss with veggies and sauce.

I found warming it a bit helped to spread the sauce nicely, just don’t heat the sauce too much, since basil browns when heated (however, this will only change the look of the sauce, not the taste). Alternatively, you can make one serving at a time, mixing just enough into your bowl for dinner and refrigerating the rest. For leftovers, put the pasta in an airtight container and put the avocado pits in with it. In the same way basil browns when it’s heated, avocado browns with oxidation, and keeping the pits inside will help to slow the process. I did both methods – I mixed all of my linguine with it but ended up with a bit of sauce left over, which I kept in the fridge with a pit for 2 days before I mixed it up with some leftover rotini, and it was still a lovely green colour. IMG_7518

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