Avocado Pesto Pasta Salad

I love pesto. And I love avocados. This dish combines these two loves into a flavorful and fresh pasta salad! 

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I’m a proponent of creative cooking, and using ingredients you have on hand to create delicious meals. Its a survival skill that comes in handy when you are a busy mom just trying to feed hungry mouths. My daughter’s school was having a family luncheon pot luck, and I had signed up for some type of pasta salad. I am known to try new recipes for the first time on large groups. Brave I know, but it hasn’t back-fired so far. I knew I wanted to make pesto, but I never make it the traditional way (you may have read in my other posts about my husband’s deathly nut allergy). So I don’t use nuts and I usually improvise.  So here I had tons of parsley, avocados, and perfectly juicy and plump cherry tomatoes. 

Oh that avocado can whip into a beautiful green “butter” for my pasta salad! Who needs nuts? (omega-3 fats, CHECK)

Lulu do you want to pick some parsley leaves from the garden!?

My daughter nods enthusiastically.

And so it was created: avocado- pesto pasta salad. No nuts, but plenty of kick from garlic and earthy parsley, the creaminess of the avocado, and a tad of lemon juice and we were set for a delicious meal in no time! We used bow tie pasta because, well, they are my daughter’s favorite. What 3 year old girl wouldn’t love to eat bow ties?! Anything to make eating appealing and fun for kids, right?

Lemon or lime juice is absolutely necessary here to keep the avocado’s vibrant green color. Some salt, pepper, and crushed garlic season the “pesto” perfectly, and the fresh parsley leaves give this sauce the perfect texture and earthiness to replace the traditional basil. At the end I add sliced cherry tomatoes and I sprinkle on some freshly grated parmesan cheese. YUM. 

 

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This thick, creamy sauce is a simple combination of blended avocados, lemon juice, salt, pepper, crushed garlic, olive oil, and parsley.

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Avocado-Pesto Pasta Salad
A deliciously creamy and zesty pesto variation makes this the perfectly refreshing dish to serve to your family or friends!
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
8 min
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
8 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 lb pasta (bowties, penne, fusili)
  2. 2 ripe avocados
  3. 1 lemon or lime, juiced
  4. salt and pepper to taste (about 1 tsp)
  5. 3 cloves of garlic
  6. 1 tbsp olive oil
  7. 1 bunch of parsley (about 1/2 cup chopped)
  8. 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  9. 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta in boiling water with some olive oil, according to directions, until "al dente"(about 8 minutes). Drain and set aside to cool in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Slice the avocado open, remove the pit and scoop out the flesh. Put it into a food processor or blender. Add the salt, pepper, lemon juice, garlic cloves, parsley, and olive oil. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  3. Pour the sauce over the cooled pasta. Add the cherry tomatoes and toss in the grated cheese.
  4. Place in a serving dish, and enjoy!
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Date Truffles

These are the perfect excuse to indulge in a rich fudgy treat; packed with nutritional carbohydrates, minimal fat, no added sugars, and 7 natural whole ingredients this is the perfect snack to pop in for an energy boost! Try these before starting your Ramadan fast to have some lasting energy:) Or if you are like me and about to start an exhausting day running errands with two screaming kids with no time to eat; then these are perfect for that too!

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I love it when dessert can also be good for you. This recipe offers one delectably sweet treat, but it is oh so full of goodness and nutrition. These are also naturally vegan and gluten free so can be enjoyed by a variety of diets. These cute little truffles are delicious, fudgy, energy bites consisting of pureed dates, a dash of almond butter, vanilla extract, crushed nuts, coconut, or dried cherries (your choice!) and dark chocolate. I add some oats and flax meal for extra nutrition. Flax seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, and fiber and have been shown to decrease inflammation, reduce risks for cancer, and modestly decrease blood sugar levels in diabetics. Whole flax seeds however, usually pass through your body undigested, so it is necessary to consume it ground.

For the month of Ramadan, when Muslims traditionally and ritually consume dates before starting and after breaking the fast, these make an excellent variation to just plain dates. Muslims start the day before fasting with a date or two in suhoor , so these come in handy with the added fiber and flavor. The sustained energy release, numerous nutrients, and outstanding health benefits of dates are all a reason to pop one (or a few!) of these into your mouth when you are running low on fuel! Check out my post on the date smoothie to try another energy boosting and natural treat and to read more about the health benefits of dates. But just to give you an idea, dates are a superfood rich in B vitamins which help you metabolize food and develop new blood cells. They are also rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron. Dates are packed with fiber, mostly insoluble fiber, which sticks to that nasty cholesterol and fat in your body and escorts it OUT of your body (by obvious means). Of course, as you may tell from its ultra sweet flavor, dates are also high in natural sugars, making them the perfect natural sweetener in desserts and smoothies and an excellent source of natural carbohydrates because they have a low glycemic index.

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I made some of these topped with crushed peanuts and no almond butter because my husband is allergic to all tree nuts and we have a tree-nut free household. BORING, I know. He is really missing out, I often tell him. Oh, and in case you are wondering, NO, peanuts are NOT a nut. They are a legume, or little seeds that grow in the ground. So although peanuts are a common allergy, they are not the same as a tree-nut allergy. (We often have to explain this to waiters who are very hesitant to give us desserts or foods with peanut ingredients when we warn them about the severe nut allergy). Anyway, I would LOVE to make these with crushed walnuts or pecans! Try it out, you will love it!

My favorite flavor is the coconut. Just add some coconut to the mixture and then roll the truffles in some shredded coconut.

To get the dates into a workable paste, you will need to remove the pit, slice in half, then soak the dates in warm water to soften them up. This is as technical as this recipe will get! Easy, right? Then you are ready to blend! Blend the dates with liquid vanilla extract and a spoon of almond butter to break up the dates into a paste.  Then add the cocoa, cinnamon, and other ingredients until incorporated. When cocoa is one of your main ingredients, it really needs to be the good stuff. Buy a fresh batch of high quality cocoa like Valrhona or Ghirardhelli. I use my Vitamix, which works great, but a powerful food processor should do the trick as well. I added oats and flax meal to the batch, and dried cherries, crushed nuts, or shredded coconut to divided parts of the mixture to make some different flavors. Then, after rolling into a ball, roll the truffle into some shredded coconut, crushed nuts, or some cocoa powder! The possibilities are endless!

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Date Truffles
Yields 8
A fudgy and delicious treat made with dates, cocoa powder, and nuts is packed with fiber and energy!
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 10 Medjool dates (pit removed, sliced in half), about 1 cup
  2. 1/4 c oats
  3. 1 tbsp almond butter
  4. 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  5. 2 tsp vanilla extract (liquid so that it breaks up the dates in blender)
  6. 3/4 c cocoa powder (Valrhona or Ghirardhelli)
  7. 1 tsp flax meal (whole seeds do not get absorbed by the body as readily)
  8. 1/4 c shredded coconut, crushed nuts, or chopped dried cherries (plus some extra to roll the truffles in)
Instructions
  1. Soak the chopped dates in hot water for about 5 minutes until softened. Drain and place slices into a blender or food processor.
  2. Add the vanilla and almond butter, and cinnamon, if using. Pulse until the dates are pureed into a thick paste.
  3. Add the cocoa powder and flax meal and pulse until you achieve a rich, fudgy mixture.
  4. Add the oats and chopped nuts, coconut, or cherries. If you choose to have a variety of flavors, divide the chocolate puree into portions and add different ingredients to each batch.
  5. Roll the mixture into balls, then roll the truffles in coconut, cocoa powder, or crushed nuts.
  6. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Notes
  1. You can substitute the almond butter with peanut butter, but the peanut butter will tend to dominate the chocolate flavor. You may also completely omit the nut butter for a really thick and fudgy mixture (but you really need a powerful processor to break up the dates into a paste!)
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/