Italian cuisine is one of my favorite things on the planet. The thought of giving up some of my favorite Italian dishes when going vegan was definitely very saddening. It didn’t take me long to realize that I would not have to “give up” any of my favorite meals by choosing not to eat animals or their byproducts. I was inspired to make a vegan pesto sauce, and other favorite meals like Macaroni and Cheese, that would be as rich and creamy as any I have tried before.
For this recipe, I started with the basic ingredients of a traditional pesto. I was out of pine nuts, but I did have a bunch of walnuts on hand and figured that they would provide a similar flavor and texture so I used those instead. Once I had blended the walnuts, basil, olive oil and garlic together in the food processor I felt it was missing something. That’s when it hit me that avocado could really give it a creamier texture. So I threw in half a ripe avocado and it did the trick!
Pesto is supposed to have a rich flavor, which my version definitely boasted, but I decided to add a touch of citrus to help brighten the sauce up a bit. Plus, adding lemon to avocado will also help prevent it from turning brown, which is a trick I learned years ago from making guacamole.
The only preparation required for this sauce is blended it smooth in a food processor. However, if you prefer a less sharp garlicky flavor, you can chop the garlic up and saute it with some olive oil for about a minute before adding to the food processor with the rest of the ingredients.
This Walnut Avocado Pesto can be used on regular pasta, on garlic bread, or even as a dip for vegetables. I had recently received the julienne peeler I had ordered and was excited to try making “zoodles,” or zucchini noodles, so I added the pesto onto those, as seen in the picture above. I also added some steamed broccoli and topped with some more fresh basil and chopped tomatoes.
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1/2 ripe avocado
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup of fresh basil leaves
- 3 large cloves of garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- water, as needed
- Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth, adding water as necessary to help thin out the mixture.
- Pair this walnut avocado pesto with some zucchini pasta and you have a delicious, healthy plant-based italian dish.