Avocado Pesto for Creamy, Dairy-Free Pasta

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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

YOU’LL NEED:
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.

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

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Cooking is cathartic for me, and – as I’ve been traveling a lot – my homesickness is not necessarily for my house, but for my kitchen. I love being able to experiment, especially in the fall, and roaming around from restaurant to restaurant isn’t cutting it for me. So when I finally made it back to my home-away-from-home in Germany, my first three hours were spent in the kitchen, making soup, applesauce, and lemon cheesecake bites. Not a bad welcome home party for myself, eh?

This Creamy Butternut Squash Soup was everything I was missing – fall ingredients and a warm, cozy dinner on chilly October evenings. Plus, it’s not half bad for you. It’s dairy and gluten-free, and could be made vegan if you opted for vegetable stock instead of chicken broth. If you aren’t following any sort of diet regimen and just want a damn good soup, add some crispy prosciutto and freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top and serve with homemade bread (or, in Germany, pretzel bread). Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 peeled carrots
1 stalk celery
1 chopped onion
3 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup coconut cream
5 cups chicken broth
(NOTE: Homemade chicken broth is SO good in this recipe. Use it if you have it!)
1 tsp. ground white pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. sage
Salt to taste

Preparation

Clean and quarter butternut squash. Place on sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Roast at 350˚F/175˚C until squash is soft. In a food processor (or with an immersion blender), combine coconut cream and butternut squash.

In a large pot, heat up chicken broth until just simmering. Add in chopped carrots, celery, onion, and potatoes and cover. Cook until vegetables are completely tender. Use the immersion blender to puree all of the vegetables into the broth. Add in all spices.

Add in the squash mixture and blend with the broth mixture. Soup should be moderately thick. Simmer for 5-10 minutes so the flavors can meld, and salt to taste. Serve immediately (although, it’s pretty great the next day, too).

 

Tried it? Leave me a comment below!