Avocado Pesto for Creamy, Dairy-Free Pasta


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.

Avocado Pesto

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.

Gluten-Free Crispy Shrimp Scampi


Who knew it would take a global pandemic to get me back on my blog?

This past Mother’s Day, my mom requested a dish I’d never made before: Shrimp Scampi. She said, “It’s been over 10 years since I’ve had it!” That, in itself, is some pressure. How can you live up to a memory that’s been preserved for 10 years? Answer: You can’t. You just have to do your best.

I found a shrimp scampi recipe online (here’s the original), but my family always requires some modifications—we’re gluten-free and generally dairy-free. Also, I almost always forget to pick up an ingredient at the store before I start cooking. But, much to our delight, this modified gluten-free shrimp scampi checked boxes all around. It was crispy—not soggy—with crunchy bits, savory herbs, and the mere breeze of wine, like you live next to a family whose cousin owns a vineyard in Napa. It was, shrimply, a hit!

Here’s how to make it:

Gluten-Free Crispy Shrimp Scampi

PREP: 20 minutes
COOK: 15 minutes

1/3 cup GF all-purpose flour mix
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined without tails (easy shrimpin’ explanation here)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic, minced (I used 5)
3 green onions, finely sliced
2/3 cup fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 cup white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)

  1. Combine the flour mixture and spices (through paprika) in a bowl. Once you’ve cleaned the shrimps, dredge them in the flour-spice mixture.
  2. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat up olive oil. Add shrimp in a single layer to the hot oil. Turn the shrimp several times to keep it from burning. Once the shrimp is cooked (think crispy little C shapes), remove from oil and place on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. My shrimp only took 3 or 4 minutes to cook. Transfer shrimp from paper towel to serving dish.
  3. In the same pan as your remaining oil and little crisp bits that fell off of your shrimp, add the garlic, green onions, parsley, and oregano. Sauté for a couple minutes—look for onions to become semi-translucent—and then spoon the herbs over the cooked shrimp and toss together.
  4. Add white wine to the skillet to deglaze, getting all those yummy bits off the bottom. The wine will bubble up. Give it 30 seconds or so, swirling around and letting some of the alcohol burn off, and then pour skillet contents over the shrimp. Serve immediately.

I’d recommend serving with lemon slices and additional fresh parsley to garnish. We served our crispy scampi over rice alongside roasted veggies. It was delicious!

NOTE: If you want a distinctly buttery taste to your shrimp, sub 1/2 cup butter in for the olive oil. Only thing to note here is that your butter will brown in the high heat—but Brown-Butter Scampi sounds good, if you ask me.

Enjoy, enjoy!