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Vegan High Protein Avocado Pesto

Vegan High Protein Avocado Pesto

I'm trying really hard lately to minimize the animal products I consume. Not just because I love animals but because I feel noticeably better when I do. I know my recent recipes have had some, but I promise there won't be many of them in the future.

The issue is, though, that this can leave many who also want to limit animal products with few options. The easiest solution is pasta but how about balancing the meal with enough protein?

Luckily, there are increasingly more protein-incorporated pastas out there. My personal favorite is from Trader Joe's (no surprise, honestly) and it's their black bean rotini which has 14g of protein in each serving. Most pasta doesn't even have protein values! If you don't live near a Trader Joe's or prefer other retailers, Whole Foods sells Banza, which is made from chickpeas and also has 14g of protein. There are options out there people!

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On top of pasta, I also love pesto. One, because I'm Italian and two because how can you not?! If you're a pesto lover who's trying to limit dairy and other animal related products (like myself), you'll love this recipe because it's

  • creamy
  • cheesy
  • nutty
  • fresh
  • filling
  • nutritious

What's not to love about all those things above? Let's get started!

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 1 cup soaked cashews over night or for six hours - if in a pinch you can soak them in boiling water for 15-20 minutes but over night is usually a better option
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp of nutritional yeast
  • 2 gloves of garlic
  • 1/3 cup basil - wash beforehand
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Pasta

  • 1 bag of Trader Joe's Black Bean Rotini or other protein pasta
  • 8 cups of boiling water
  • Salt to taste
  1. Pour 8 cups of water into large pot. Add a pinch of salt. Put on stove and turn on to medium-high heat to boil. Cover with lid.
  2. While the water is reaching a boil, drain your cashews from the soaking water and rinse in a colander. Add to a high speed blender. If you don't have a high speed blender, that's okay, you may just need to blend the sauce for longer.
  3. Halve and pit your avocados, scooping out the meat inside and dropping into the blender with the cashews. Here, add the olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, and the 1/3 cup of basil. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  4. Once smooth, add the first tablespoon of nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast has a naturally cheesy taste to it which many vegans and non-dairies use to add where that flavor is usually missing. I say add only 1 tbsp at first in case the flavor is too cheesy to you. If not, add the rest after tasting. You could easily add an extra 1/2 tbsp for the fully cheese effect, though.
  5. Add a bit of salt and pepper. If the mixture is too salty, add the smallest amount more of pepper and maybe an extra leaf of basil. Scrape down the sides as necessary so everything is equally blended, with little to no basil pieces un-blended.
  6. The water will most likely be boiling by now and you can add the entire bag of pasta, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn't stick together or to the bottom of the pot. This pasta serves 6 people and the sauce can technically serve about 8. Therefore, if you want extra sauce on your dish it's definitely possible.
  7. Cook the pasta until al dente. You will know it's reached this point when you test it and it's initially soft at the bite but slightly firmer when you chew. Take it off the heat immediately and strain the pasta.
  8. Let the pasta run under luke warm water to give it a quick rinse and get rid of any extra starch. In the mean time, add your sauce to the pot on low-medium heat to warm up. Turn off the sink water.
  9. Once the sauce appears to be simmering, which will only take about a minute, add your pasta back to the pot and gently stir until evenly distributed on the pasta.
  10. Serve your guests and yourself immediately. If there's leftover sauce, feel free to put it in a serving dish or save for leftovers! I added vegan parmasian on top and an extra basil leaf to garnish.

If you want extra, EXTRA protein try adding Beyond Meat's chickenless chicken strips, hemp seeds, or even tofu! To make it even fresher, you could add halved cherry tomatoes.

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