Pesto adds flavor and texture to nearly any meal, from scrambled eggs, soups, salad dressings, pizza, and of course, pasta. While traditionally made with cheese, it is simple to make a dairy-free pesto. Simply replace the cheese with a perfectly ripe avocado. By doing so, you replace saturated fat with heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. The result is a very silky, fiber-rich and low-glycemic index sauce which is arguably just as tastey as the traditional cheese version.
To bring back a hint of cheese-like taste, include a teaspoon or two or nutritional yeast. Feel free to mix it up with your green base. Replace some of the basil with kale, fennel or carrot tops, parsley or other herbs. Get creative. Use whatever is in season -or just clean out your refrigerator!
Adjust the amount of avocado depending on how thick you want your pesto and the size of your avocado. If you find your pesto is thicker than you want, simply add some of the pasta cooking water to the pan when you are mixing the pesto with the pasta.
VEGAN AVOCADO PESTO
Yield: 2 Cups
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 cup walnut pieces (or pecans or pine nuts)
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 4 cups basil leaves, packed
- 1-2 teaspoon nutritional yeast (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 – 1 avocado, halved, skinned and pitted
- Combine the garlic, walnuts and lemon juice in a blender or food processor. Process until coarsely chopped.
- Add the basil leaves, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper and process until smooth.
- Add the olive oil and process again.
- Add the avocado and process again until smooth.
- Adjust salt, pepper and lemon juice as needed.
- If not using right away, cover the pesto with the remaining olive oil and store refrigerated or freeze.