Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta

Think you can't have pasta when you're eating healthy? Think again! It's no secret that I love pesto (or pasta). I mean, the feature photo for my blog page is a pesto pasta dish. Not to mention, I have several variations of pesto recipes up on the blog. So it's safe to say my obsession with pesto and love affair of pasta is obvious at this point.

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta.jpg

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These days, I literally can't get enough of this sun dried tomato pesto. It's savoury and bold yet fresh and light. The sun dried tomatoes add this really sweet/tart component to the pesto and give it a really nice chewy texture. It's honestly so good, I'll eat it right off the spoon. 

My favourite part about a pesto is that you can substitute so many of the traditional/classic ingredients for healthier options, non-dairy options or simply to use what you already have on hand. And it's quick! No word of a lie, I've timed myself before and it takes less than 5 minutes to prepare a pesto! That, combined with the time it takes to cook your pasta and you've got a meal in less than 15 minutes. 

Pesto is the quintessential dish of my childhood. Anytime I whip up a pesto pasta, I'm suddenly a kid again, sitting in the kitchen with my mom, sharing a bowl of it. Growing up, we almost always grew our own basil in the summer. When the basil was abundant, pesto was an obvious choice for weekend lunches or a quick dinner after an active day in the pool. 

Pasta dishes can still be healthy dishes. Here's how:
I suggest staying away from the white, refined pastas and opting for whole grain varieties like spelt or kamut. My favourites, however, are the gluten-free varieties such as brown rice, quinoa, lentil/bean pastas. And if you're looking for a low-carb alternative try these pasta-free options: spaghetti squash noodles, zucchini noodles (zoodles) or sweet potato noodles. 
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Here are the simple, fresh & nutritious ingredients that make up a pesto: 

1. Greens and/or herbs: Sometimes I'll use traditional basil and sometimes I'll use spinach, kale or even micro greens (hello healthy!), depending on what I have on hand. 

2. Olive oil

3. Nuts/seeds: a traditional pesto recipe calls for pine nuts but I almost always use walnuts (brain food), hemp hearts (anti-inflammatory), sunflower seeds or almonds, again depending on what I currently have handy in the fridge. 

4. Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast (if you're going dairy-free)

5. Garlic or garlic powder

6. Lemon to brighten it all up 

 

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta

Ingredients

1 big handful of fresh basil (any greens/herbs will work, see above)
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes (rinsed if they're soaked in olive oil) 
2-3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup hemp hearts (any nut/seed will work, see above) 
1/4 cup parmesan cheese OR nutritional yeast
1 small clove of garlic
1 Tbsp lemon, freshly squeezed
sea salt, to taste
 

Directions

  1. Place all of the ingredients above in a food processor and pulse until you achieve desired consistency. I like my pesto to have a bit of texture to it but you could pulse it smooth if you prefer. 
  2. Spoon over your favourite cooked pasta, sprinkle with a little more parmesan or nutritional yeast and enjoy!

* my go to pasta is quinoa and/or lentil/bean based varieties because they are gluten-free and higher in protein and fibre. You can find them at most health food stores.
** You can make this pesto even healthier by combining some spinach or kale with the basil OR chopping fresh spinach to serve over top your pasta afterwards. 

Pestos are so impressive, they can make any amateur home cook seem like a gourmet chef! And any amateur home cook can prepare a pesto because they are so incredibly easy to make. Simple, fresh ingredients that are tasty and nutritious. 

What dishes remind you of your childhood? 

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