Who loves fresh-from-the-garden basil pesto? This Vegan Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Veggies recipe is the perfect combo for summer. Fresh basil is very high in Vitamin K as well as offering cardiovascular support. Basil’s flavonoids and essential oils including eugenol are also high in anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
We’re able to get large quantities of organic basil here in Baja California Sur and with the help of my, I’ve perfected a vegan pesto that is so delicious no one will ever guess it’s missing cheese!
Pair the vegan pesto with gluten-free rotini and some grilled veggies (tomatoes and calabacitas work well) and you’ve got a fabulous summer meal your family and friends will love. Or for a lower-carb option, make spiralized zucchini pasta.
Vegan Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Veggies
As one who’s never cared for zucchini in my life, I’m amazed to find that I eat it almost daily here in Mexico. What’s the difference? Turns out Mexican’s eat a variety of zucchini called calabacita italiana or Italian zucchini, which has a firmer consistency, better for grilling as it doesn’t become slimy like regular zucchini can. Look for Italian zucchini in your produce department or grow some in your garden.
Ingredients for Pesto
1 cup Olive Oil (try Trader Joe’s Kalamata Olive Oil)
1 cup Vegan Parmesan Cheese (see recipe below)
6 medium cloves garlic, peeled
4 cups fresh organic basil leaves, washed and dried
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 teaspoon smoked sea salt
Place all ingredients into VitaMix or blender, in the order listed. Turn Vitamix on and quickly increase speed to 7 (or high on blender). Blend for one minute, using the tamper to press ingredients into the blades. If using a regular blender, use a wooden spoon and occasionally stop blending, scrape the sides down, and push all ingredient into blades.
Makes 3 cups of pesto. Place pesto in Mason jar and store in fridge. Keeps well for 3-4 weeks.
Ingredients for Vegan Parmesan Cheese
This vegan parmesan cheese is a great non-dairy parmesan substitute for a variety of dishes. I keep a Mason jar full in our fridge.
1 cup almond meal
1 cup powered nutritional yeast (if you only have nutritional yeast flakes, grind it in a spice grinder first to create smaller particles.)
1 quart-size Mason jar
Add ingredients to Mason jar. Tighten lid and shake until well mixed. Use as you would any parmesan cheese. Store in fridge, keeps for months.
Makes 2 cups Vegan Parmesan
Ingredients for Gluten-Free Pasta Salad
This pasta salad tastes great served warm or cold
1 box of Gluten-free Pasta (I use Barilla brand from Italy, or Tinkyada brand, which both cooks and tastes like regular pasta. Alternatively you could spiralize zucchini for a low-carb dish.)
3-4 TBSP Vegan Pesto (to taste)
Grilled veggies (see below)
1 can garbanzo beans, salmon or tuna (optional, if you eat fish)
Cook pasta according to package, keep it al dente, don’t over-cook. Once pasta is cooked and drained, fold in 3-4 TBSP Vegan Pesto to taste. Stir pesto in with large wooden spoon being careful not to break noodles. Add in garbanzo beans (or canned fish).
Divide onto 4 plates. Top with grilled veggies. Sprinkle with more Vegan Parmesan if desired.
Ingredients for Grilled Veggies
You can use any veggies, we like the combination of grilled calabacita, cherry tomatoes, and onions.
4 calabacitas, cut in 1/2 width-wise, then sliced into 4 slices per half, about 1/4″ thick
1 pint organic cherry tomatoes
1 small sweet onion, sliced into wedges
3-4 TBSP Olive Oil (try Trader Joe’s Kalamata Olive Oil)
1 TBSP Trader Joe’s 21 Salute Spice Blend
1 teaspoon smoked sea salt
Place all cut veggies into medium size bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with TJ’s 21 Salute, and smoked sea salt. Mix well with wooden spoon until all veggies are coated with oil and spices. Grill until cooked.
While it may seem like a lot of steps to make this meal, once you have the pesto and vegan parmesan cheese made this dish will come together in a snap, and you’ll be able to make many other dishes with the remaining pesto and vegan parmesan.
Enjoy! And please leave a comment to let me know what veggies you used in this dish.