RAW Pasta with Basil Kale Pesto
Zucchini, or summer squash has long been part of my diet, whether I liked it or not. Growing up, I lived on a six-and-a-half acre farm and that allowed my mother to tend a vast vegetable garden. This was no skimpy square of soil growing a mere salad's worth of greens and tomatoes. No, my ma's mini-field was home to corn, green beans, peas, onions, potatoes, peppers, cucumbers, dill, scallions, yellow beans, and carrots; of which me and my sisters regularly pulled from the soil and enjoyed after just a brief rinse under the garden hose. Oh, and then there was the zucchini.
My mom's squash thrived on the land, often growing to be more than a foot in length. And there were many. So many in fact, than my mom had to get creative in how she could use up her harvest, sometimes requiring some clever camouflage techniques. Because let's face it, little kids are not all that keen on eating green stuff. And adding anything vert to dessert? Unheard of! But mom managed to sneak one by us for our entire childhoods, and her zucchini chocolate cake still stands the test of time. In fact, my sister Stephanie made the recipe just last week. And had dozens of folks asking her for the secret formula.
Well enough about my youth. Nowadays, I avoid gluten, most processed foods, and like to include as much green food as possible at every meal. One of my fave ways to use zucchini is to make it a noodle! I have a neat-o spiralizer machine that makes quick work of the squash, easily transforming it into a soft, pasta-like flavour vessel. But if you don't have one of those at home, you can also make thicker zucchini "ribbons" simply be using your standard vegetable peeler.
The beauty of this veg's bounty is that you can enjoy it well into fall -- local zuchs will be available right through October. So why not hit your local farmer's market and fill your basket with a few other fresh ingredients and whip up a bowl of this pesto zucchini pasta bowl? It will taste like summer in a snap!
Makes about 1 cup of pesto (leftovers freeze well)
• 1/3 C firmly packed fresh organic basil*
• 5-6 organic kale leaves, washed, trimmed, and torn into pieces*
• 2-4 garlic cloves, depending on your tolerance!
• 1/3 C walnuts (raw, or toasted for a denser flavour)
• 1/4 C nutrition yeast***
• 2-3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1.5 t sea salt
• 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil to start, adding more as needed
• 1-2 zucchini, made into "noodles"
*Feel free to substitute any local organic herbs (cilantro, parsley) or leafy green (spinach, arugula) that you prefer or have on hand. The flavour combos are endless, but I like the mix of the kale and basil.
***Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast sold commercially as a food product. It is yellow in color and has a flakey texture and a nutty cheese-like flavor, making it a great flavour enhancer and favourite among vegans. Nutritional yeast can be found in bulk food and health food stores as well as many larger supermarkets
1. In a blender or small food processor, add all ingredients and puree until smooth, scraping down blender jar or processor bowl with spatulas as necessary.
2. Continue drizzling additional olive oil as needed to reach desired consistency.
The richness of this nutty sauce is a perfect match with the crisp freshness of raw zucchini noodles or spirals. This pesto is also a delightful addition to any cooked pasta, rice and greens bowl, or grilled veggie sandwich.
What even more RAW inspiration? Then join me for an interactive Raw Food Workshop, "RAW Harvest," taking place Sunday October 14 in downtown Toronto! For more info hit up my website.