March is one of my favorite months. The weather is warmer, March Madness is happening, and… it’s my birthday month! This year my sister got me a food processor for my birthday. Her gift inspired me to immediately make pesto sauce. The blades of this machine are razor sharp and it took no longer than 30 seconds for my ingredients to puree. I can’t wait to use this food processor to make more sauces along with a million other things. I have a Vitamix at home – it’s great for smoothies, soups, and smoothie bowls but I’ve always had a hard time making smaller quantities of sauce in it. I also wanted the food processor to chop my veggies. I highly recommend one as an essential tool for vegan cooking. This pesto sauce is healthier than the traditional kind. It contains less oil, no cheese, and uses spinach instead of basil. It’s garlicky and decadent like traditional pesto. You won’t miss the cheese, I promise! You can use this sauce for tofu, tempeh, or any vegetable including spaghetti squash. You can make it ahead of time and store it in the fridge. Kale would be a great substitute for the spinach. Pine nuts would also work well if you don’t have walnuts. This recipe makes 1 cup of pesto sauce. If you’re watching your calories, 1/4 cup of the pesto sauce combined with 1 cup of the pasta is also really tasty, just not as intense. Make sure you tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Facebook and Instagram if you make this dish!
Spinach Pesto Macaroni
- 2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
- 8 quarts water (to boil pasta)
- 4 cups baby spinach (5 oz package)
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
- 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 tbs nutritional yeast
- 3 tbs chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- olive oil spray
DirectionsIn a small frying pan or sauté pan, sauté garlic on medium heat in olive oil spray for about 4 minutes until fragrant and starting to brown. Place spinach, olive oil, walnuts, nutritional yeast, sautéed garlic, and salt in a food processor and puree until smooth. In a large pot, heat water on medium high heat until it reaches a rolling boil. Cook macaroni for about 7 minutes for al dente pasta. Drain pasta and place in a large serving dish. Stir in pesto sauce and grape tomatoes and serve while hot. May store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Makes 1 cup of pesto sauce which can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
- Approximate calories per 1/2 cup pesto sauce: 356 cal
- Approximate calories per 1 cup elbow macaroni: 200 cal