Monday, August 20, 2012

"Dirty" Vegan Pesto with Conchiglie and Sun-dried Tomatoes

I am an avowed fresh herb fanatic, using parsley and cilantro in place of lettuce in my salads on a regular basis. Not only do fresh green herbs always wake up my taste buds but they are nutritional powerhouses. A little known fact, parsley has more iron and calcium per ounce than kale or spinach, but since most people eat it in such small quantities - primarily as garnish - no one trumpets it. Along with parsley, cilantro is also high in anti-oxidants, all the B vitamins as well as a great source of vitamin A and C. But that's not why there are always a couple of bunches of each in my refrigerator, I just love the taste of them!

Sometimes the days get away from me and then the wilting bunches are tossed in the food processor, stems and all, to become this quick and dirty pesto! It's "Dirty" because there is no need to pick the leaves off the stems, just toss them all in the bowl of the processor. In fact, the stems are even more packed than the leaves with the nutritional benefits of these gorgeous greens, so do not waste them!

I developed this vegan pesto after discovering the magic of nutritional yeast and its cheezy flavor. Since nutritional yeast is now always in my pantry, making this pesto is a snap and no need for grating (or buying) expensive parmesan cheese. Because parsley has a bit of a bitter bite, adding in a tablespoon of margarine helps smooth out those rough edges. A pinch of sugar would also achieve the same result if you don't have margarine in the fridge.

Kids can usually be enticed to eat pesto and you can use this as a dip as well as a sauce for pasta. People have been known to simply spoon it out of the jar, so be forewarned!

I will be sending this to Ruth, creator of Presto Pasta Nights who writes at Once Upon A Feast. Stop by on Friday to see the whole round up of all of the great pasta!

Dirty Vegan Pesto with Conchiglie and Sun-dried Tomatoes
(serves 3-4)

1 lb conchiglie (or other shell like pasta or rigatoni)
3 cups fresh herbs, including stems (flat leaf parsley, cilantro, mint, basil, any mix)
4 cloves garlic
2/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup walnuts (or pine nuts)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon margarine
black pepper to taste
10 sun-dried tomatoes, cut in slices

Bring large pot of water to boil and salt; add shells and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside. While water is coming to boil, place garlic, walnuts and half of herbs in food processor along with half of olive oil. Pulse to blend, scraping down the sides to blend well. Add remaining herbs and oil, margarine, salt and nutritional yeast and pulse until blended, scraping down the sides as needed. Taste and season with more salt as needed and as much black pepper as desired. Mix 1 cup with cooked pasta and add sun-dried tomatoes and toss to coat well. Serve warm or chilled.


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Cold Brewed Coffee at An Edible Mosaic
Beet, Asparagus and Corn Salad at Stacey Snacks
Lentil Salad with Mangos and Arugula at Honey From Rock

1 comment:

Ruth Daniels said...

I'm always looking for new pestos and I love the sound of this one. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.