So, I know that there are a multitude of vegan pesto recipes out there in the universe, but you can stop looking for the best version – this is The One. After plenty of experimenting, I created this veganized version of my grandma Ang’s pesto recipe. She was sharp as a tack, stubborn Italian-American in the finest, an amazing cook; as well as a very loving, genuinely fabulous person. I wanted to create a vegan version of pesto that wouldn’t put my family name to shame, and I could be proud of. This is it. (Just in case you didn’t get it, we take pesto and sauce very seriously around these parts). 🙂 Making pesto is labor intensive (but TOTALLY WORTH IT!), thus I bought a bucket load of basil at Whole Foods and decided to divide and conquer in order to make two versions of my favorite summer dish. It’s probably one of the only things I like more than quinoa salad. 😉 😉 Today I’ll be starting off with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, and tomorrow (drum roll, please) you’ll be getting Ang’s Vegan Pesto – aka the best pesto you’ll ever taste, period.
Now, about this Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto.
One of my favorite things about my hometown in Western New York is going to Aladdin’s, a local Mediterranean restaurant where every dish is super fresh and packs a punch of flavor, and they make literally the best hummus I’ve ever tasted in my life. When I became a vegetarian (a very long time ago), it was always my first choice when asked where I wanted to go out to eat. It was there that I fell in love with Mediterranean food, and to this day still try my damnedest to recreate some of my favorite dishes. One of my top faves was a sun-dried tomato pesto served over freshly made spinach pasta. That dish has been haunting my taste buds for awhile now, I figured it was time to roll up my sleeves (jk I was wearing a tank top because it was 90 degrees yesterday) and recreate it.
The great thing about this pesto, and pesto in general, is that it is perfect for warmer weather. Eat it cold, hot, warm, lukewarm and it always tastes amazing. Serve it over pasta, use as a spread for sandwiches/paninis, dip a hunk of fresh bread in there – whatever you wanna do, boo. My recipe just captures the flavor of a hot July day to me – it’s savory, fresh, satisfying, and little decadent. Best of all, it’s easy, vegan and gluten free. And have I mentioned it’s delicious? 😉
To pair with the pesto, I made a super easy, 30-minute marinade for tempeh, which was pan-fried in a little bit of coconut oil to amp up the amount of protein in this dish. Simple, fast and paired really well with the creaminess of the pesto. Check back later today for that recipe. 🙂 I’ll add the link here later.
*Also, if you’re looking at the title of this post and thinking what the heck are zood-noods?! Don’t worry, I’ll tell you. Last night I wanted both regular pasta AND zoodles – MyFitnessPal said that I had plenty more carbs to eat, so I didn’t want to go full zoodles, but I was really hungry and knew I didn’t want to eat 2 giant bowls of pasta, so I thought – why not both?! I combined a 3/4 package of Tinkyada Brown Rice Fettucini with 3 medium zucchinis, zoodled. Results? Delicious. Ding ding ding, we have a winner! 🙂 The zood-noods are a B & B idea that are based on the concept of Volumetrics: basically, the volume of food that people eat affects both how satisfied they feel and how much they eat. Think of it like this: if you consume less calories per bite, you can eat a larger portion for less calories overall. If you eat 2 cups of lower-calorie mashed cauliflower, or two cups of butter and cream filled mashed potatoes, you will probably feel the same degree of satiety, but obviously 2 cups of mashed cauliflower (with no butter/cream) = way less calories. So, by swapping out higher calorie items with lower calorie replacements, you will lower the calories in each portion of food while maintaining the same amount of food. What’s up, SCIENCE!
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Over Zood-Noods
- 3/4 package of Tinkyada Brown Rice fettucini (or your favorite pasta)
- 3 zucchinis
- 2 cups of basil leaves, loosely packed
- 1 7-oz jar of sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
- 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup of L’s Vegan Parmesan Cheeze*
- 1 – 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, to taste (for desired level of “cheeziness”)
- 1/4 cup of pine nuts**
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Maybe a little salt or pepper to taste, if desired
Step One: For the pesto, combine all ingredients into a food processor. Pulse the ingredients to get a consistency that still has some texture to it, with definitive chunks of sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts and basil.
Step Two: Meanwhile, boil the water for the pasta. Zoodle your zucchini so it’s ready to go. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, and in the last minute of cooking, throw your zoodles in the boiling water. Drain zood-noods, and toss the hot noodles with about 1/2 of the sun-dried tomato pesto.
Step Three: Serve with a protein of your choice (spicy tempeh recipe to come!) and enjoy! 😀 😀 😀
Important to Note:
*If you’re not a vegan, you can substitute the equivalent amount of dairy Parmesan cheese here.
**If you’re nut free, you can substitute sunflower seeds for pine nuts (Obv make an adjustment to the cheeze as well – if you want to keep it vegan, you can use Go Veggie! Parmesan Cheese Style Topping in place of my vegan version).
Literally dying this was so good. I will bet you $100 that if you feed this to non-vegans, they will have NO idea that this dish does not actually contain any (dairy) cheese. Completely undetectable! I hope that you guys enjoy this one as much as I did. I think Ang would be proud. 😀 😀 😀
What’s your favorite way to eat pesto? Tell me all about it in the comments. 😀