It's July in Vancouver, which means it's nearly impossible to walk into a produce market without catching an intoxicating whiff of basil and needing to immediately buy a big bunch of it. Like pretty much everyone, I love pesto, but pesto sort of relies on an unholy amount of olive oil, so it's not the kind of meal I want to be eating on the regular. (I do still make and adore a low-oil pesto, but sometimes you want richness, too.)
Enter this pesto-inspired creamy basil pasta. Garlicky, savoury, and with plenty of that fresh basil aroma and flavour—but no oil, just creaminess from nuts for maximum richness that doesn't make you want to curl up on the couch and take a nap after dinner.
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup walnuts
1.5 cups water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 PACKED cup fresh basil (tear off the thick stems)
3 (or more) cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
12 oz pasta (whole grain, okay? Love, mom)
Add first seven ingredients to a blender (cashews through salt). If you don’t have a high-powered blender, you may need to soak the nuts for up to two hours first. (You can speed the softening process by using hot water.) Blend until suuuper smooth.
Cook pasta according to package directions and combine with sauce.
We always have pasta with a veggie sauté of some kind mixed in, too. These days, with creamy pasta meals, I'll usually do kale, mushrooms, and either vegan sausage or white beans. I sauté them together, adding a splash of wine if we’re drinking it and/or a splash of soy sauce for extra umami. Just make sure to add any greens and other softer veg towards the end so you don't overcook them.
Thanks to the walnuts, one serving of this pasta contains more than half of your DRI of omega 3 fats 😎