Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Avocado & Cilantro Pesto with Whole Wheat Penne

I am a huge avocado fan.  Give me a bowl of guacamole, some chips and a bit of salsa and I am a happy girl.  Or spread a ripe avocado on toasted whole wheat bread, sprinkle some salt, pepper & dried red pepper flakes over the top and lunch is served.  This versatile, creamy, healthy fat fruit (yes, avocados are fruit!) is packed full of fiber, vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B5, potassium and vitamin B6.

Today I decided to experiment with using avocado to create a pesto.  Using classic guacamole ingredients like avocado, cilantro, onion, jalapeno and lime juice added to toasted walnuts and lemon cucumber, this delicious sauce is wonderful tossed into whole wheat penne pasta with in-season cherry tomatoes and chives.  What a perfect combination!  The pesto is also nice used as a dip with fresh vegetables and/or crackers, spread on sandwiches or dolloped on baked potatoes.  Enjoy!

Avocado & Cilantro Pesto with Whole Wheat Penne
1/2 cup toasted walnut halves
1 avocado, pitted and cubed*
1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
4 green onions, white & green parts
1/2 small red onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (do not seed if you want it really spicy)
1/2 medium size lemon cucumber, roughly chopped
juice from 1/2 lime
1/8 cup avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

1 lb whole wheat penne pasta
extra virgin olive oil
2 pints cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup chives

Add toasted walnuts to bowl of food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Add next 9 ingredients plus a pinch each of sea salt & black pepper.  Pulse until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Meanwhile, bring large pot of water to a boil, add 2 handfuls of salt and the pasta. Cook according to package directions. Drain, reserving the pasta water.

In a large skillet, warm 2 tbsp olive oil. Add tomatoes, cover and cook for 5 minutes until they burst and soften. Add the cooked pasta, 1 cup of pesto and 1/2 ladle of pasta water.  Stir to combine.  Add another 1/2 to 1 cup pesto until you get the texture you like.  Stir, taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired.  Serve, snipping chive leaves with scissors over top.

*pitting an avocado

It is "avocado" week at Food Network's Summerfest roundup. Check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends. Do you have a favorite avocado recipe?  Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one.
Feed Me Phoebe: Kale Salad with Avocado, Cranberries and Peptias

Jeanette's Healthy Living: Smoked Avocado Tomato Salsa Guacamole
Weelicious: Avocado Honey Dip
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Avocado Green Goddess Dressing
Red or Green: Avocado and Cilantro Pesto with Whole Wheat Penne
Blue Apron Blog: Avocado Tartines with Goat Cheese
Domesticate Me: Summer Salad with Avocado, Corn and Grilled Herb Shrimp
Dishin & Dishes: Creamy Avocado Citrus Dressing, No Cream, No Oil
The Heritage Cook: Summertime Vegetable Stuffed Avocados 
And Love It Too: Sugar-Free Avocado Fudgesicles
Haute Apple Pie: Avocado BLT Egg Salad
Daily*Dishin: Colorful Sweet Pepper-Avocado Salsa
Devour: No-Cook Avocado, Shrimp and Mango Salad
Taste With The Eyes: Zucchini "Pappardelle" with Avocado "Cream"
FN Dish: 10 Audacious Guacamole Add-Ins

My best,
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