Avocado/Basil/Cilantro Pesto Pasta from www.cloudthyme.com

In the summer, I can’t help but find a way to eat avocado with everything, or just by itself. Sometimes if I’m having an especially intense craving I just buy one, cut it in half, and eat it with a spoon for a snack. Yum. That delicious creamy goodness works on everything from salads to tacos to pasta, apparently. I first saw the avocado pasta idea on one of my favorite blogs, Oh She Glows. I made her version and it was really good, but I wanted something with a little more kick and protein. When avocados were only $1 at WF yesterday, I decided I had to make my own version of the avocado pesto. This time I added cilantro, basil, lime, and walnuts over a hearty bowl of pasta, chicken, and roasted baby tomatoes.  It’s definitely a comfort food but has the fresh, zingy taste of summer in every bite.

This pesto is not just for the pasta either. If you follow my recipe exactly, there should be leftover pesto that can be spread on a sandwich or used as a dip for veges. Even better is toasting slices of french bread, spreading some pesto on it, and topping it with some fresh chopped tomatoes or roasted pepper – voila, bruschetta. This pesto doesn’t have any cheese and is light on the oil, which isn’t missed with the added avocado and walnuts, and makes it even more healthy and flavorful! Although this pesto and pasta dish is best served day-of to maintain the bright green color, it still tastes just as delicious eaten the next day too.

Avocado/Basil/Cilantro Pesto from www.cloudthyme.com

Pesto Ingredients (makes more than needed for pasta):

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 cup walnut halves or pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Pasta Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 4 cups bowtie pasta
  • 1 lb (or 2 large) chicken breasts
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

avocado/basil/cilantro pesto from www.cloudthyme.com

As per usual, here are some substitution suggestions: You can leave out the chicken entirely or replace it with sautéed prawns. If you’re not into walnuts, pinenuts or almonds could be used. If you don’t want to buy both basil and cilantro, this recipe would also be delicious with just one of the herbs- but cilantro is pretty intense so I wouldn’t use an entire cup. I like the lime with the cilantro, but lemon would work just fine too. You can always up the garlic for a more intense flavor and could add some parmesan at the end for presentation and traditional pesto cheesiness. Enjoy!

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss tomatoes in glass pan with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are shriveled but still whole.
  4. While tomatoes are in the oven, fill a medium sized saucepan with water and heat until boiling.
  5. Add 4 cups pasta and cook as directed on box, or until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  6. Chop chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add chicken pieces. Sauté until cooked throughout.  Set aside.
  8. Add all pesto ingredients to food processor and grind until smooth. Transfer to small bowl.
  9. When tomatoes are done, remove from oven and drain liquid. Let cool slightly.
  10. Toss pasta and chicken with pesto and stir well. (I only used about half the pesto for my pasta, but you can definitely toss in more. I like to save the rest of the pesto to use as mentioned above)
  11. Add in the tomatoes and stir carefully to combine.
  12. Serve immediately or let cool and serve as a cold pasta salad. Either way, add fresh basil/cilantro and a lime wedge.

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avocado/basil/cilantro pesto pasta with chicken and roasted tomatoes from www.cloudthyme.com