This pesto and pasta dish is really simple to make and has become one of my favourite go to meals for the summer. I just took it with me as my healthy travel meal to LA and it’s so good, I had to share this little beaut with you!
When I was prepping for my trip to the states, I wanted something gluten and dairy free and most of all nutritious to take on the plane with me. In the midst of throwing clothes all around me in a Jacqui tornado (I’m notoriously messy when packing…and most of the rest of the time too!) this seemed like the perfect thing to make as a simple healthy meal so I didn’t have to stress about food on my travels.
It took me a few goes to perfect this pesto (4 to be exact) and I’m so pleased with this one, it’s creamy and flavourful and totally hits the spot. Plus I was able to include this Vegan Parmesan by the Minimalist baker that I stumbled upon a few months back which has now become a staple in my fridge! It’s just such a great flavour and I love sprinkling it on meals in place of Parmesan or cheddar.
So we start off with the pesto sauce itself (sorry, I had a lovely little picture of it but I messed up with my camera and it came out crazy over exposed and couldn’t be brought back in line with the others, such a newbie!! but you can see it at the side when I’m making it up with the pasta).
To keep this pesto in line with that authentic taste I made sure that pine nuts and Basil were still a big feature in the sauce. Pine nuts are fantastic to include for their high levels of good fats like Oleic acid which help lower LDL cholesterol (the bad one) and increase HDL. Pine nuts also come with a large array of b vitamins and minerals and so provide your body with a lot of the essentials! They also contain the fatty acid, omega 6 which has been shown to curb appetite and therefor helps prevent over eating.
You get a nice chunk of protein in the sauce with the pine nuts being 14% protein and cashews containing 18% ( which compares to 26% in beef) so you’re still getting a pretty healthy portion along with small amounts in the other ingredients also.
The combination of healthy plant based ingredients in the pesto means you’re providing your body with lots of alkalising ingredients. The theory of eating an alkaline diet is based on the concept that your body needs to stay in an alkaline state to ward of disease and bad bacteria which thrive in an acid state. Your body does a good job at keeping this in balance but with diets now that contain far more acid forming foods such as meat, sugar, milk and processed products it is believed that it is harder for your body to keep the balance and this is when disease occurs.
The leafy greens (and purple leaves) in the salad are a great form of alkalising food along with the basil in the pesto and given that the protein in this meal comes primarily from nuts this again gives the body a helping hand! For more about alkalising foods, here is an article by Dr Axe which sites studies and medical journal articles which explain this in more detail.
This is also a great anti cancer meal as its bursting full of some of the top foods and herbs that contain compounds that inhibit growth in a variety of cancers. We have garlic (that’s a bit of a star player), oregano, spinach and the big hitter in the form of shiitake mushrooms (known for their incredible anti cancer properties) check out this article in the guardian on the subject ( shiitake mushrooms come in the 5th paragraph). Very cool stuff..Food is medicine!
This super pesto isn’t just good for pasta, oh no! It goes great as a healthy dip, slathered on toast and topped with avocado or as the base for the ultimate pizza topping. This versatile little jar lasts in the fridge for about a week. Enjoy and let me know how you get on! xx
- 100g pine nuts
- 35g basil
- 5g parsley
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tbs vegan parmesan by the minimalist baker
- juice of 1 lemon
- 40g cashews
- 1 tsp oregano
- 175mls sunflower oil
- 330g gluten free pasta (my favourite is La buona vita maize and rice flour mix)
- 4 large handfuls of mixed leaves (that include spinach)
- 1 tsp of coconut oil
- A pinch of salt
- 20-30 baby tomatoes
- 12 shiitake mushrooms
- Add all the ingredients for the pesto except the oil into the food processor with 1 tbs of water and chop to the desired consistency (I like mine with a bit of texture).
- Then mix in the sunflower oil (a little at a time to make sure it doesn't become too runny).
- Once this is finished, transfer the mix into a mason jar and pop in the fridge or set aside (you can make this in advance as it keeps in the fridge for a good week)
- Put your pasta on and follow the pack instructions. Then chop the tomatoes and mushrooms (make the mushroom chunks quite small as shiitake can be a little chewy).
- Heat the coconut oil in a pan then add the tomato and mushrooms with a small pinch of salt and cook on a medium high heat for approx 5minutes, moving around the pan with a wooden spoon.
- Once the pasta is cooked, add in the pesto (approx 2tbs per person but this can be more or less as desired) mix in the leaves while the pasta is still warm then serve on pre heated plates.
- Scatter over the mushrooms and tomatoes and sprinkle with vegan Parmesan.