Another winter storm has us wishing even harder that spring would hurry up! The bitter cold and gloominess that has overtaken Grand Rapids has us a little down in the dumps. And with no end in sight, we’ve decided to start finding our own ways to boost our moods!
Food can always bring back memories or transport you to a different time and place. Some of our favorite winter meals are heavy, rich, and stick-to-your-ribs. Since we’re wishing for warmer weather and sunshine, we decided to lighten it up a bit and bring some of our favorite flavors of Spring and Summer – lemon, basil, avocado – into this refreshing Avocado Pesto Pasta dish.
Traditionally, pesto is made with pine nuts and lots of Parmesan cheese. But we changed it up a bit, using walnuts (which we had on hand in our pantry) and skipping the Parmesan altogether. There is so much flavor going on in this pasta sauce that we didn’t miss the cheese at all!
- Picking an Avocado: Avocados are ripe when they are slightly soft and “give” a little when squeezed. They shouldn’t be mushy, though. When choosing an avocado, keep in mind when you plan to use it. If you want to use it right away, choose one that is already ripe. If you are planning to use it a few days from now, choose one that is still firm – it will ripen as it sits on the counter.
- Pitting an Avocado: In the center of an avocado is a large nut or pit, which can be tricky to remove. The easiest way we’ve found to pit an avocado is to first, open the avocado by positioning your knife over the avocado the long-way, cutting straight through to the pit, and then following the pit all the way around the avocado. Twist to open. Then, holding the avocado half with the pit, take your knife and quickly but carefully chop the pit, lodging the knife. Twist the knife to loosen and remove the pit. Ta-da!!
- 8 oz. spaghetti or pasta of choice
- Salt for the pasta water
- 1 cup pasta water (reserved before draining pasta)
- 1 avocado, halved and pitted
- 1 cup fresh basil
- ½ cup walnuts
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously (optional, but recommended). Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water for the sauce.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare the avocado pesto sauce. In a food processor, add the avocado, basil, walnuts, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides if necessary to incorporate everything. Add the pasta water ¼ cup at a time until the sauce reaches your desired consistency (we typically add ½ - ¾ cup).
- Toss the avocado pesto sauce with the drained pasta and serve.