The return of the food processor: Pesto Pasta Salad, Bean’n’Basil Besto, and breakfast in a wine glass

Ash’s version: traditional pasta

Hello again world! Yes, I’m alive. Apologies for the delay in posting.

Rather than attempt to post recipes twice each week, I am taking a quality-over-quantity approach. After all, these recipes must be worth repeating, and if I’m draining my creative juices and giving you less-than-amazing dishes, not only will you be disappointed, but I won’t be living up to my own standards. While blogging is important to me, if it is to reach a high standard, it has to be sustainable along with other big time-consuming priorities: working, studying and fitness. So please bear with me, and when you visit Cat’s Kitchen, expect to see a high quality weekly post. I will be only sharing the best of each week with you, which often will mean that each post will include multiple recipes.

Such as today’s. In celebration of the return of my food processor and blender, I succeeded in using each and every part of it – the blender, the big-bowl processor and the small-bowl processor. For breakfast, I made a apple, berry and coconut smoothie – satisfying and delicious. Lunch was a pesto pasta salad, two ways. Creamy, fresh and believe it or not, oil and nut free. The final recipe is a bit of a fusion between a bean dip or hummus, and basil pesto. Bean’n’basil pesto? Let’s call it a besto.

If you like drinking young coconuts, don’t throw them out when they’re finished, because they’re not. It takes a bit of effort (it’s helpful to have a strong man around), but if you chop off the top, you can scrap out the meat with a spoon. It’s the most delicate, creamy, delicious stuff. Heaps of raw recipes use it in desserts, and if you don’t have use for it at the time, you can put it in the freezer.

Coconut meat is full of minerals, fibre and good fats. It’s pretty calorie-dense, so I’ve only put about half the flesh of one young drinking coconut in this smoothie, but the fats help to keep you full. Added to that the super antioxidant power of berries, and the vitamin goodness of apples, this is a nutrient-dense breakfast.

My smoothies are always too big for our tumblers, so I used the biggest type of glass we own – a red wine glass. Fitting, given our love of red wine, and I think it looked lovely.

Apple, Berry and Coconut Smoothie (serves 1)

If you don’t have coconut meat, use a small banana and a tablespoon of flaxseed or chia seeds to provide a similar nutritional profile.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 red apple (I love Royal Gala apples)
  • The meat of 1/2 a young drinking coconut
  • 1 cup of mixed frozen berries

Method:

Blend.

My version: zucchini noodles

Next in order is the pesto pasta salad.

I had an enormous bunch of basil languishing in the fridge, leftover from a dinner party on the weekend. Naturally, basil + food processor = pesto. But I didn’t want it to be loaded with oil, and didn’t feel like nuts either. Avocado pesto appears frequently in the vegan blogosphere, and I hadn’t made it before, so decided to run with it.

Now, on it’s own, this is more like a dip than a pesto. I thinned it out to make it a sauce. If you’ve ever had a creamy pesto pasta, think of that – this is really similar – but unlike the traditional version, this gets its creaminess from healthy avocado rather than animal fat. Win win!

The two versions were for Ash and I – he had been feeling like pasta lately, and as you may have noticed, I don’t cook it often. I’ve been eyeing the “pasta” dishes at Choosing Raw – as the weather warms up, the more raw food the better in my books, and in the past I’ve loved Gena’s zucchini noodle recipes. So she inspired my zucchini noodle version. I’ll give you both options, and you can decide!

Pesto Pasta Salad (serves 2)

Ash loved it but suggested adding snowpeas next time. I completely agree – the crunch would be great and the flavour would work very well.

Ingredients:

For the pesto

  • 1 small avocado
  • 1 cup of basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp nooch (optional)
  • Water to thin

For the salads

  • 1 cup cooked short pasta, or one zucchini, shaved or sliced into thin noodles
  • 1/2 bunch spinach (baby or English), chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 handfuls alfalfa
  • A handful snowpeas, chopped

Method:

  1. Process the pesto ingredients until smooth and creamy, adding water to help get it moving, and then to thin until it’s just right. I used about 3/4 cup in total, which gave me a thick creamy dressing. But my avocado was very small so adjust until it looks good to you.
  2. Toss pesto with other ingredients and serve.

The bunch of basil was huge, so I still had as much as would be in an ordinary bunch, and it was getting weary. Here’s how I used it up.

What I had in mind was a sort of hummus, using the mungbeans in the fridge. While being distinctly basil-dominant, this is far more like a bean dip or hummus than a pesto, but ‘pummus’ didn’t sound as catchy as ‘besto’ to me.

As with hummus, this makes a hearty salad dressing if you shake a tablespoon of it with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. It’s a favourite dressing template of mine, especially when building a ‘meal-sized salad‘, such as the lentil, romaine and raw vegetable salad I’ve prepared for work tomorrow.

Bean’n’Basil Besto (makes heaps – about 2-3 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch basil, leaves picked
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 cups cooked beans/legumes (I used mungbeans)
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • Salt to taste

Method:

In a food processor, blend until well-combined but still a bit chunky. Use water to help get it going, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup.

And finally, what am I to do with these?

I’ve never cooked this type of squash before, haunted by memories of tasteless, mushy things I was served occasionally as a child. But these have been stocked by the fruit’n’veg grocer in Redfern for the past few weeks, and are just so cute! And I am determined to give any vegetable a second chance. In my experience to date, all vegetables are delicious if prepared well. So what’s the best way to convince a pattypan-squash-hater into a pattypan-squash-lover?

xx

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