Artichoke Pesto Primavera

Artichoke Pesto Primavera

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Spring is finally here in Chicago! We’ve only been waiting a whole extra month, right? It’s about time!

Last week I shared my Blueberry Oatmeal Energy Bites after so many of you asked for meal prepping recipes. I wanted to make a lunch option that would be as easy and quick to make but still flavorful, healthy, and all around delicious!

Warmer weather might make you think it's time to give up staple comfort foods such as pasta. Pasta can easily feel like a heavier meal, but it doesn’t have to be. Pasta Primavera, which literally translates to “Spring Pasta”, is a dish using spring time vegetables for a fresh and light meal, almost symbolically kicking off the warm season through food.

Pesto sauce alone always seems to hit the spot when it comes to comfort food but I wanted to try something different this time. Grilled artichokes are a regular food for my family during the summer and I thought their slightly salty flavor would be a perfect addition to a traditional pesto sauce.

My High Protein Avocado Pesto is a similar dish to this Artichoke Pesto Primavera but is a little heavier and – as implied – really packed with protein - 20g of protein to be exact! If you’re looking for something to really meet your macros, I highly recommend this pasta.

When you look at the ingredients, it may seem like 3 tbsp of avocado oil is a lot, however, this is necessary to prevent the noodles from sticking together after they’re done cooking. One of my favorite quotes about Italian food is from Michelle Pfeiffer in the movie “The Family”, where she says

“Olive oil caresses your insides, leaving nothing behind but its scent”

How perfect is that? It makes my inner Italian beam with cultural pride!

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Squash, cherry tomatoes, and asparagus make the perfect combination together and really lighten up this dish in place of a meat option. However, if you wanted to add an animal protein, I'd suggest chicken or salmon for a still light but filling meal.

Both the tomatoes and zucchini came from my most recent Imperfect Produce box and I knew they’d be perfect for this recipe. If you don’t know what Imperfect Produce is, you can learn about it here plus read about my experience with my first order. If you already know about Imperfect Produce and are looking for a discount code, click here for $10 off your first order!

As we near the warmer months, I think it’s important to adjust your diet accordingly. I love eating outside in the spring and summer but I don’t want to eat something warm like soup or something too light like a silly salad. This pasta is just enough to keep me full but not endure a total food coma.

Ingredients

Makes two generous servings or three reasonable portions.

  • 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 cup chopped asparagus
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • Juice half a lemon
  • 3 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 small zucchini cubed
  • 4 oz spaghetti
  • Optional: vegan parm on the side
  1. Boil a medium sized pot of water over high heat with a sprinkle of salt and cover.
  2. While the waters boils, prepare your vegetables. Chop the white bottoms off the aparagus, halve the tomatoes, and cube the zucchini.
  3. In a food processor, add the basil leaves, artichoke hearts, avocado oil, lemon juice, garlic cloves, nutritional yeast and pinch of salt. Optional: chopping the basil leaves roughly before adding to the food processor. Blend on medium while slowly adding the cold water as needed.
  4. Once the pesto sauce is done being prepared, add your pasta to the boiling water, stirring and pushing done the spaghetti that may be sticking out. If you prefer, you can break your pasta in half or use a taller pot so the noodles can be submerged immediately. Stir frequently to prevent clumping.
  5. While the pasta cooks, add a drizzle of oil to a medium saucepan on medium heat. Add the asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and squash and a sprinkle of salt. If the pan becomes to dry, add a tablespoon of water to prevent burning. Don't forget to stir your pasta! Continue to saute the vegetables until they are more vibrant in their color and slightly shrunken.
  6. By now your pasta should be done. Remove it from the heat and strain the water into your sink. Add the pasta to the vegetable saucepan along with the artichoke pesto sauce. Using tongs, gently toss the pasta to evenly coat every noodle and vegetable.
  7. Serve immediately or portion for meals throughout the week.
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