I’m dairy-intolerant, which most people don’t know because of my voracious passion for cheese. So, when it comes to easy swaps, I like to lay off the alfredo and dress my pasta in something a little more Abbi-friendly. Avocado Pesto is an easy pasta sauce swap because you don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything—you get a creamy, thick sauce with tons of flavor while slicing that calorie count into bits. Healthy fats, people!
Each element of this recipe brings a different little something-something to the table. The base is avocado, of course, but the star of any pesto will always be fresh basil. I prefer Sweet Basil (what you normally find at the store) or Genovese Basil (a little more peppery) to Thai Basil, which lends some whiffs of licorice to your cooking (not for me).
Some pesto recipes are super oily. I love the flavor of olive oil, so we’re not omitting it—but we also don’t need to use olive oil as the thinner. Before you know it, you’ve added 1/2 cup of olive oil and you end up with a greasy pasta. My healthier swap is vegetable stock, which thins and adds fullness to the flavor. If I’m out of stock, I’ve been known to throw in a few tablespoons of unsweetened original almond milk (not vanilla) which is kinda good, honestly. Fresh lemon adds a brightness to your pesto, as well as some balancing acidity to the richness of the avocado. I’ve added a clove of garlic for flavor (a necessity in any good pesto) and seasoning to taste.
Fold your Avocado Pesto into warm pasta and top with toasted walnuts and fresh Pecorino, or mix it into your favorite kitchen-sink pasta (i.e., me throwing all the vegetables that need to be used up into a sauté pan and going from there).
If you are not worried about dairy, you can add a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese to your pesto. Be sure to taste the sauce before adding any additional kosher salt, as the cheese will lend saltiness.
1 ripe avocado
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 chopped fresh basil
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1-2 Tbsp. vegetable stock (for desired consistency)
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese (optional)
Add all ingredients to a small food processor and blend until smooth. Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-5 days.
Makes enough to coat 4 servings of pasta.