High Protein Chickpea Pasta & Vegan Pesto

Inspiration can come from anywhere, and the inspiration for this particular simple dish came from a delicious sample I tried yesterday at Costco.  This was my first time trying Banza pasta, and I really liked both the taste and the fact that each serving has 25 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber!  As a brand marketer, I also applaud their bright, simple and clean packaging.  For this dish, I made the pasta w/ a classic vegan pesto w/ some fresh summer basil from our local farmer’s market.  It’s a great easy and healthy summer dish and can also be jazzed up w/ some veggies if you like.

1. 1 packet of Banza pasta (makes 4 servings)

1. 1 bunch of basil (I used Tomatero Farm’s organic basil)
2. 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
3. 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast
4. 3/4 cup of walnuts
5. 1 large garlic glove
6.  Squeeze of lemon juice
7. Himalayan sea salt – generous sprinkles, and taste and add more to your liking

1. For pasta, just follow the instructions on pack (boil water + add pasta for 7-9 minutes and then strain).
2. For pesto, put all ingredients in a food processor for about 1 minute.  Taste it and adjust to your liking (if it’s thicker than you like, add more olive oil, if it’s not salty enough, add a few more sprinkles).  Note that when you store the pesto in the fridge it can thicken and I like to add a little more olive oil and mix after storing.
3.  For each serving of pasta, add  a couple heaping spoons of pesto and mix well.

Sriracha Hemp Seed Pesto

Just got back after two amazing, jam-packed days at Expo West, and starting to play around with all the 50+ samples I brought back. As a first timer, I admittedly might have gone a bit overboard and brought back half a bulging suitcase of yummy samples & swag.

Will be trying them out over the coming weeks, and one that I tried at the show that I absolutely loved was Manitoba Harvest’s Sriracha Hemp Seeds.  I first tried these classically hempy, nutty, slightly spicy and salty seeds on avocado toast (amazing), and I just tried infusing them in vegan pesto, which also turned out very tasty and with a nutty twist on a traditional vegan pesto w/ a kick of heat. 

1. 2 cups of fresh basil leaves – de-stemmed
2. 1 garlic clove
3. 1/2 cup walnuts
4. 3/4 cup olive oil (if you prefer less oily, thicker dip consistency, use 1/2 cup)
5. 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
6. 3 tbspn Sriracha hemp seeds
7. Sprinkles of sea salt to you liking

Directions:  Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and dippable / spreadable.

Serving suggestions: Spread on whole wheat toast, mix into Zoodles for vegan pasta, use as a dip w/ veggies or wherever your creativity leads you.

Enjoying this w/ my hubby in our sunny garden now as he is planting our spring flowers in the pretty turquoise planters he made from reclaimed pallets.   The show was chalk full of amazing new companies, entrepreneurs, so many people I knew from all walks of life, but like all trade shows, came back physically exhausted, and happy to be relaxing in our sunny casita and garden.  More Expo inspired recipe to come soon :).

Recharging post Expo in our zen garden

Sundried tomato walnut pesto

My boyfriend Marcus is our CGO, chief gardening officer, and has been doing an amazing job as our plant whisperer to grow yummu, healthy plants and herbs.  He recently planted some basil, which was the inspiration for this delicious vegan sundried tomato walnut pesto.  I use walnuts instead of pine nuts, mostly because they are so much cheaper and taste great. I swap in nutritional yeast for Parmesan cheese, which gives this a beautiful cheesy, nutty flavor and keeps the dish all vegan (and a little lower in fat than traditional pestos with cheese).  This is great topped on regular pasta, zucchini pasta, as a dip for veggies or chips, as a spread or really just to eat by the spoonfuls :).  It keeps in the fridge for 1 week so you can save some and enjoy throughout the week.

2 cups fresh basil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup of walnut
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tbsp sundried tomatoes in olive oil (I use julienne jar from Trade Joe’s
1 garlic clove chopped
Generous sprinkles of sea salt – taste and add as needed

Directions: Put everything in food processor and blend until creamy.  

Vegan pesto stuffed baby bellas

My boyfriend and I decided to host a last minute pre-holiday potluck and these made a really tasty appetizer.  I made the raw vegan pesto the day before. Even though it doesn’t have cheese, the pine nuts and olive oil have a very flavorful richness so you won’t be missing the dairy!

1. 1 bunch of fresh basil
2. 1-2 cloves of chopped garlic
3. 2 cups of pine nuts
4. 1/4 cup olive oil
5. Sea salt – I don’t measure so start low and add as you like!
6. 12 small portobello (or other) mushrooms with stems removed

1. Combine ingredients 1-5 in food processor and pulse until you get desired consistency.  Mine came out somewhat thick so more like a dip than a sauce, which worked well in the warm mushrooms
2. Brush the mushrooms with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake in 350 for about 15-20 minutes.  Add pesto and bake another 5 minutes

Serve hot and enjoy!!!

Mint Parsley Pesto (Vegan!)

1. 1 cup raw cashews
2. 1 cup fresh mint
3. 1 cup fresh parsley
4. 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (this gives it cheesy flavor)
5. 1 garlic clove, diced
6. 1-2 tbsp olive oil
7. 1-2 tbsp water
8. 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
9. 1 tbsp bragg’s amino acid (or any soy sauce)

1. Soak raw cashews in water until all are covered for 2-4 hours to soften.
2. Once cashews are done soaking, strain out the water and transfer cashews to blender or food processor
3. Add ingredients #2-9 to blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.

Serving ideas: We had this on  zucchini pasta (made w/ a spiralizer) and added some extra fresh mint and parsley on top.  We also tried it on crackers w/ some sliced heirloom tomatoes on top.  Great as a sauce, spread or thick dip!

**This recipe was inspired by and adapted from a recipe in a cookbook I love, Blissful Bites