Now that winter is behind us and we are heading into the spring and summer months (even though this weather in Boston the last week or two has been acting more like winter and I am STILL wearing my winter jacket...) I've begun to transition my meals towards being on the lighter side as well. Usually when I think of pasta; heavy creamy sauces filled with cheese or meat, come to mind and it is just too much for our bodies to handle- carb & cheese overload! To be honest, I prefer cold left over pasta, especially one with either an Italian style dressing or a light nutrient packed pesto, ones that are dairy/meat free- like the one I am about to share with you!
People think I am crazy when I tell them I actually enjoy a cold light pasta salad versus a sauce laden comforting pasta dish. There is just something about the way the pasta tastes the next day after it has been marinating all night in the dressing that for some reason makes it taste ten times better! All the spices, seasonings, and olive oil just gets soaked in every nook and cranny of the elbow pasta! One of my favorite things when I was younger was to take leftover cold pasta salad to the beach during the summer for lunch when I was working there! Plus, you don't feel as if you need to take a nap on the couch for the entire afternoon, you feel energized and ready to go.
Recently I started using Banza, chickpea pasta, because not only is it double the protein compared to regular pasta but it's four times the fiber than regular pasta! It is also naturally gluten free and low on the glycemic index. I do not suffer from a gluten allergy but do watch what I put into my body and do notice that I feel so much better after eating this pasta versus the others, especially if I have those few extra spoonfuls.
Enough about the pasta, let's get to the pesto because that is what makes this dish taste so delicious. It only requires a few simple ingredients but it is packed with nutrients and vegetables! I used the usual suspects such as basil, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, sprouted almonds (easier to digest), etc but also added Organicgirl SUPERGREENS! to the mix. This mix is packed with dark leafy green superfoods containing minerals, vitamins, and is their most nutritional salad. It is a blend of tangy red & green chard, hearty bok choy, and spicy arugula accented with mild sweet spinach and is so delicious! Toasting the almonds in a sauce pan and roasting the garlic really makes a difference in the taste of the pesto because it brings out a richer flavor, but it isn’t necessary. This sauce is dairy free, full of flavor, and adds the perfect amount of crunch for each bite! It was hard to not eat the sauce by the spoonful since it was so fresh and packed with greens! It is such a good way to sneak in some vegetables to the dish and no one will ever know! I originally created this pesto for this pasta dish but it would be great for pizza, chicken dishes, or a crusty piece of sourdough bread!
This pesto pasta dish is one meal that you can feel good about! Packed with fiber, protein, and veggies!
Prep time: 10
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Serves: 2-3 (depending on the amount of pasta you cook)
Pesto (ingredients below)
Nutritional Yeast (optional)
Yields: 1 cup
1 cup sprouted almonds
1 1/2 cups basil, packed
1 cup of organicgirl supergreens!
Juice of 1 lemon
3 cloves of garlic, minced*
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 tsp. of sea salt (or more, adjust)
1 tsp. of pepper (or to taste)
*You can also roast the garlic for a few minutes to bring out the flavor
1. Over medium heat, add 1 tbsp. of olive oil to a pan. Add the sprouted almonds and saute for 3-5 minutes; until lightly fragrant. Be careful to burn. Stir constantly. Set aside for a few minutes to cool.
2. In a food processor, add the basil, supergreens, garlic, lemon, pepper, and sea salt. Give it a quick pulse or two until everything is combined. Next, add the almonds and the olive oil. I like my pesto a little on the chunkier side, so pulse until desired consistency. You may need to scrape the sides or add a bit more olive oil for everything to mix together. Taste & adjust.
Cook according to directions on the box. For the Banza pasta, I cooked 4 cups of the pasta for 8 minutes in 8 cups of boiling water. Stirring occasionally. Next, drain and rinse.
Add 2 cups of pasta to a bowl (or how many cups you want to eat!!) while still warm & add the pesto directly on the the pasta. Give it a good mix. Since the pasta is still warm, it will allow the pesto to soak into the pasta easier. Next, add the cherry tomatoes and sprinkle with nutritional yeast or your favorite cheese!
Pesto will last in fridge for up to a week. Pasta will stay fresh for 3-4 days! Enjoy!