We really included this as an excuse to share our delicious vegan pesto recipe which is healthier and tastes better than anything you’ll find in a jar. The classic Italian dish of Pasta Pesto can be made extra special by sprinkling crispy salt and pepper tofu cubes on top to boost the protein and give it a crunch. This is equally good served cold the next day as a pasta salad.
- 1 x 400g block tofu – well-pressed tofu
- 1 cup fresh basil
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ cup cashew nuts
- ½ cup almonds
- 2 tbsps nutritional yeast
- the juice of 1 lemon
- 4 cloves of garlic
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 200g bag fresh baby spinach
- 1/2 head broccoli cut into mini florets and steamed for 5 mins
- 1 cup pitted green olives, chopped in half
- 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
In a blender or food processor, whiz together the basil (fresh and dried), oregano, cashew nuts, almonds, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic and a good glug of olive oil. Drizzle extra olive oil as required to get the right consistency. If it’s too dry add a splash or 2 of soya or almond milk but not too much as you want the pesto to stick to the pasta. You can add half an avocado here to give the pesto a thicker, silky texture.
Put the pine nuts in a frying pan and dry fry for up to 5 mins. Don’t leave them – you want them golden brown but not burnt and they turn quickly.
Long Press a block of tofu and cut into small cubes. Fry the cubes in a tablespoon of olive oil till crispy and grind in some pepper and sea salt as it is frying.
Cook your pasta of choice according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Drain, return to the saucepan and add the pesto. Mix well to completely coat the pasta and then add green olives, fresh spinach leaves and the cooked broccoli. Add a splash of tamari and salt and pepper to taste. If you like a bit of heat, add a tsp chilli flakes and mix in well. Transfer into bowls and sprinkle the tofu cubes on top. Serves 4 (or 2 and enough for a big salad the next day).