I had to call this dish Rockstar Pesto Pasta for three reasons:
1) the spicy green pesto blends up into a glowing neon green color.
2) the rockstar spicy-hot flavor appeal.
3) the dish is totally fuss free. Tour-bus approved.
How fuss free? Simply blend up the pesto and pour over a steaming bowl of hot penne pasta and serve. You'll be getting lots of healthy nutrients - but you won't know it at first glance. And if you want to glam up your bowl with some energizing broccoli florets and cheeky chickpeas - go ahead. I won't tell.
Green Comfort Food. My creamy thick pesto sauce has accents of lemon, garlic, jalapeno, walnut, pistachio, basil, parsley and pepper. Healthy, satisfying and on your dinner table - or tour bus - or backstage dressing room - in under 30 minutes. Get my rockstar recipe...
Rockstar Vegan Pesto Sauce. Dairy-Free. Most pesto sauce has basil, nuts, garlic, EVOO and cheese. However, I've found that my dairy-free vegan pesto is still creamy, decadent and flavorful - without the cheese. Rockstars don't need all that dairy clogging up their vocal chords anyways. If you crave the Parmesan flavor, I have had success using vegan Parmesan in pesto - but it's really not necessary.
Pricey Nuts. Life on the road can be hard. So rockstars have to budget too! I mean really, have you seen the price of pine nuts lately?? $10 for a tiny container here in NYC!..
So since every time I make pesto I like to add in a unique ingredient - today I switched out the classic pesto ingredient: pine nuts - and used green pistachios/walnuts. Pistachios are still rockstar-approved (aka yummy/healthy/cool) but they don't cost as much as pine nuts or walnuts. You'll see below I used half walnuts, half pistachios in this pesto sauce to trim back the recipe budget. Yay, more money for vegan pleather pants.
Improv Air Guitar. My spontaneous rockstar self decided to change up the classic pesto ingredients even more... Goodbye EVOO. Hello Grape Seed oil. The change gave my pesto an extra light and fluffy texture. However, if you aren't the air guitar type, you can stick to the classics and use EVOO.
Spicy! Rockstars like things hot! Spicy. Super extreme. So I threw in a large jalapeno - seeds and all. Right into the food processor. Spicy. Hot. Loud. Green Day style. If you want your pesto a bit more mellow (say Celine Dion style) - omit the seeds from the jalapeno. Uber rebels can add two jalapenos. Wow.
Make it a Meal. Rockstars don't need the garnish - but for a complete sit-down, off-the-tour-bus style dinner dish, I added in a few chickpeas and broccoli florets. Rockstars need to fuel up for those big Arena shows...
Arena Show Style - Pasta, Pesto, Veg, Beans:
In case you were wondering... Maybe you noticed from the pics that this rockstar pesto isn't always the same dreamy green color. Well no, this wasn't a cover-shoot photoshop job. You see, when the hot steamy pasta heats up the pesto and the air begins to oxidize it a bit, the pesto changes color from pastel lime green to a dark mossy green. It changes color - how rockstar of it.
...in addition, when you blend up the pesto it is essentially a raw pesto sauce. Raw onion, greens, walnuts, lemon juice, etc. So that hot pasta does "cook" it mildly - resulting in the color change.
Rockstar Pesto Pasta
aka Spicy Pesto Penne with Chickpeas and Broccoli
vegan, makes a really big bowl (serves 4-5, with leftover pesto sauce)
*halve recipe for a smaller portion.
Spicy Rockstar Pesto:
1/2 cup lemon juice
1-3 Tbsp EVOO or grape seed oil
1 1/2 cups raw walnuts
1 cup pistachios, roasted/salted
3 Tbsp pasta water
1 small orange, squeezed
2 cups fresh basil
1 small onion
1 jalapeno (add seeds if you want pesto spicy)
5-8 cloves garlic
1 cup fresh parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
optional: add in a squeeze of agave or maple syrup for a sweet accent
2 cups broccoli florets
1 can organic chickpeas
1 bag of whole wheat penne pasta
garnish: chopped grape tomatoes, pumpkin seeds
Ingredient Note: Out of jalapenos? Substitute spicy wasabi powder! 1-2 Tbsp should do it.
1. Grab all your pesto ingredients. Set them by your food processor.
2. Fill a pasta pot with salted water - turn heat on high, wait for boil. When boiling, drop your penne pasta.
3. Keeping an eye on your pasta, head over to the food processor and put every ingredient in. Don't forget to grab a few Tbsp of the boiling pasta water as well. Blend your sauce on high until smooth and creamy. The sauce should be the consistency of a super thick and smooth marinara sauce. Thicker than tahini. Thinner than hummus.
4. You pasta should be just about done - so I will actually double duty my pasta bowl and place a steam tray above the boiling pasta for 2 minutes to flash steam my broccoli and chickpeas. However, you can prep them however you like best.
5. Drain the pasta and toss it in a thin drizzle of EVOO or grape seed oil. For extra spicy pasta you can even toss it with a dash of red pepper flakes.
6. Grab your pesto and pour it right over the steamy hot pasta. Fold sauce in. You can either fold the broccoli/chickpeas right into the bowl or add them as a generous garnish later.
7. Serve with optional items: fresh pepper, chopped tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and basil on top. I like to squeeze a lemon over top the finished pasta dish for an extra zesty bite of flavor.