Here's a recipe for a really tasty and really easy vegan white pesto that you can stir up in a jiffy for a healthy weeknight meal.
I am mad about pestos, and I've got quite a few here on Holy Cow!, including my version of everyone's perennial favorite, a vegan basil pesto.
There are many reasons to love pesto: they are easy sauces to make, most require no cooking, and they make pasta taste better than almost any other sauce can, at least to me.
I can't say the same for Jay, though. I know there are lots of cooks out there on the web who claim that pesto is kid-friendly, but from personal experience, both with Jay and hearing from other moms, I can't say that is true. At least not universally.
You can easily imagine why: with notes of raw herbs, raw garlic and olive oil -- and with their green appearance that automatically turns off kids -- pestos are incredibly pleasing to a developed adult palate, but not to kids who can pick out every undesirable (to them) ingredient in every food just by turning up their noses at it.
This white pesto is an exception, though. Jay even likes it, and will request seconds.
This is a creamy pesto, with the creaminess coming from vegan ricotta. Into that creaminess you stir bits of toasted walnuts, a hint of garlic, oregano, lemon juice and zest for a sauce that's subtle and yet absolutely not so.
Any rod-like pasta like rigatoni or penne is great with this pesto, or you can use a long pasta like fettuccine. I used gemelli pasta because I think that spiral shape is at once quirky for kids and elegant for adults. You will need a pound of pasta for the amount of pesto this recipe makes.
You don't have to take my word for how good this white pesto pasta is. Try it. And if you do, be sure to come back and let me know!
Ingredients for vegan white pesto:
- Raw cashews
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Nutritional yeast
- Oregano (fresh is better, but dry is fine)
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Vegan White Pesto
- ½ cup walnuts (lightly toasted and finely chopped)
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic (grated or finely crushed. I like garlic, but you can cut this down to one clove because it can be a strong flavor as we are using raw garlic)
- 1 tbsp oregano (finely chopped. Or use 1 tsp dry)
- 1 cup pasta cooking water
- ¼ cup vegan parmesan cheese (for serving)
For vegan ricotta:
- ½ cup raw cashews (you can soak these beforehand for 30 minutes if your blender isn't powerful)
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Place all of the ricotta ingredients in a blender or food processor with ¼ cup water and process into a smooth paste. If you need more water, add just a teaspoon at a time to keep the blades moving.
- Turn out the ricotta in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients along with a cup of the water you cooked your pasta in. Stir vigorously to combine everything, then stir in the pasta and mix well.
- Serve topped with cashew parmesan.