This is a recipe that really excited us as we were developing it. Transitioning away from cheese was not easy, and how on earth were we to survive without pesto? We are still alive and actually prefer this cheese-free version. As we tend to have one-plate meals, and I devour pretty impressive amounts of pasta, it is nice to have a pasta sauce option that does not leave me feeling like I have just over eaten, even if I have. The dish also contains a fair amount of courgette that adds a nice amount of bulk to a hungry man's plate. Baby Green loves this pasta sauce (albeit with a lesser kick of garlic) so it is a winning recipe all round.
For a tasty meal, this is very simple to prepare and is nutritious and generally beneficial to one's tummy (and the planet). The ingredients are readily available. While they are at their best in high summer, they are a nice reminder of sunny days throughout the year. This recipe should satisfy anyone sceptical of plant-based eating and is a great potluck/picnic contribution as it can be served cold. Although the uses of this pesto sauce are not limited to pasta we generally mix it with wholegrain spelt fusilli or penne pasta, that way Baby Green can eat it without help. Spaghetti would work just as well for diners with more advanced eating techniques. Whole grains have a favourable hint of nuts and are the healthier option. Wholegrain pasta typically also takes less time to cook. We set our timer 2 minutes earlier than package suggestions (particularly with spelt as it contains less gluten) and taste every 30 seconds until an almost perfect 'bite' (the pasta will continue to cook even when strained and added to the sauce).
Ingredients: (enough for 350g of dry pasta, serves 4 adults as a main)
- 1 X bunch, 50g of basil
- 2 X medium to large courgette
- 1 X clove garlic
- 50g pine nuts
- 2 X 25ml (1 1/2 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 X tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp bouillon
- 50ml water (just under a 1/4 cup)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
Method: (see video below)
- Cut the courgettes in half and slice lengthwise along the core. This step separates the denser-textured outer part of the courgette from its softer, seeded core.
- Chop the core of one of the courgettes and place in your food processor. The core of the second courgette will not be used in this recipe. I like to save them for my smoothies.
- Place the courgette pieces aside.
- Gently toast the pine nuts in a pan over medium heat until dark caramel-like brown in parts. Watch them closely as they go from toasted to burnt very quickly.
- Add the basil, garlic, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, pine nuts and 25ml of olive oil to the food processor and begin to blend. You will have to scrape the sides down every 10 seconds or so until you have a smooth but still coarse consistency. Be patient, you shouldn't have to add any more liquid as the courgette and basil contain enough, and blended sufficiently the ingredients should release all the liquid you need. Should you choose to add a bit more water, then try not to add more than 1 tsp.
- In a pan with a lid (I use the same pan for toasting the pine nuts) add 50ml of water and 1 tbs of bouillon followed by the courgette pieces.
- Leave the pan on high heat until the liquid starts to boil then reduce to a simmer and let steam for 5 minutes. Give the courgette pieces a quick and gentle stir every minute, otherwise keep covered. If it looks like the liquid is not enough after a few minutes of cooking and the courgette will start to burn then add another tbsp of water, but you shouldn't have to. The courgette should have a nice bite to it - similar to the consistency of the pasta.
- Once cooked add the courgette pieces to a large bowl and mix with your pasta, the remaining 25ml of olive oil and the pesto.
- Serve- buon appetito!