Chestnuts roasting on an open fire … more like the party hostess covered in flour and crying—from slicing tons of onions and the stress of cooking a feast that’s happening in T minus 15 minutes. Entertainers gotta impress, but a lot of times that means taking on elaborate, fanciful recipes that get you in over your head. Also, making sure all your friends with special diets can eat, too, is a lot on you. A word of advice: keeping things simple doesn’t mean compromising your loftiest holiday party ambitions. Here’s a show-stopping recipe for a vegan-friendly pesto pasta literally everyone will love as a side dish or main. It’s so rich and basil-y and so dynamic in flavor that no one will be able to deny its perfection. The best part: it takes 15 minutes or less to make and it’s so so easy. If you can boil water and press a button, you can make this.
Our go-to pasta for this is classic penne because we love the way the creamy pesto gets trapped in the hollow centers. (For your gluten-free pals, any brown rice pasta or quinoa pasta works.) Um, mac and cheese who?
Vegan Pesto Pasta
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
16 ounces penne ⅔ cup toasted cashews, plus ¼ cup 1 tablespoon sea salt 1 ripe avocado ⅓ cup basil 1 to 2 garlic cloves ⅓ cup lemon juice 5 ½ tablespoons olive oil 4 tablespoons water
- Bring a large pot of water with a pinch of salt to a boil. Cook pasta al dente per instructions on the package.
- In a food processor (or blender), add cashews and sea salt and grind to a fine powder. Set aside ¼ cup for serving.
- Add avocado, basil, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and water to food processor with the cashews and process until smooth and creamy.
- Turn off the stove burner. Set aside ¼ cup of the water the pasta is cooked in, then drain the pasta. Return the pasta to the large pot. Drizzle in a bit of olive oil and gently mix to keep pasta from sticking together.
- Add the pesto and gently fold it into the pasta until thoroughly combined. If desired, mix in up to ¼ cup of the pasta water for a saucier consistency.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle the rest of the ground cashews on top. Done and done.
Share this recipe with your friends and tag us in your final creations! @LEAFtv