Spring Vegetable Recipe 3 Ways: Vegan Spring Pesto Pasta

20th April 2017
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Here in the North of England Spring is finally trying to sprung. Today started off a balmy 5 degrees Celsius which means I’m not quite into full on salad mode just yet. I am however craving the fresh flavours of Spring vegetables. I decided to take the best of this seasons veg and come up with a few recipes to help me get my Spring vibe on. First up is my vegan Spring pesto pasta which hits the mark as a warm, zingy dish with loads of flavour and a light fresh texture.

Spring Vegetables

I chose to go with classic British Spring staples:

  • Asparagus
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Spring Onion
  • Petit Pois

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I’ll be using these same ingredients in a variety of ways to create more Spring vegetable recipes over the coming weeks so stay tuned. Obviously what’s in season for you will vary greatly depending on where you live. Take the time to do some research in your local area. Your taste buds and budget will thank you for it.

Vegan Spring Pesto

I feel the need to begin with a small disclaimer, I’m one of those strange people who finds relaxation in cooking. I know some of you will think that’s ridiculous but I can’t help it. I’m lulled by repetitive stirring and chopping. If you’re rolling your eyes at the idea of it then I’m willing to bet that you’re the very person in need of a little self soothing.

My version of this pesto is just such a recipe. It requires continuous, meditative chopping to bring together these fresh ingredients into something that couldn’t be further from the salty, oily, dairy laden supermarket variety.

This method results in a chunky, rustic pesto that allows for differing mouthfuls with every bite. The crunch of a wayward pine nut against a sliver of lemon zest. A salty flake of nooch beside the bitter, aniseed notes of basil. The pop of a sweet pea that missed the chopping block. Without the need for tons of oil the freshness of the ingredients are preserved and the dish stays light and zingy.Β Or you can just shove it all in the food processor if you’re stuck for time πŸ˜‰

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If you do make this in a processor you’ll be creating more of a traditional paste. You can achieve this by gradually adding part of the oil and lemon juice I use in the cooking stage into your pesto until you’re happy with the texture. Don’t forget to allow for that by reducing the amounts further on in the recipe.

Spring Pasta

I chose to go with oversized conchiglie to catch and hold the pesto. You can use any pasta you have to hand but bear in mind there’s less oil to make it stick than you may be used to in a traditional pesto. For this reason I think conchiglie or farfalle are the best options.

When it comes to cooking the vegetables medium high heat and fast stir-fry is the way to keep this dish feeling fresh. I like my broccoli and asparagus with plentyΒ of bite. If you watch the YouTube recipe video you’ll see I also use frozen, slightly defrosted peas in my pesto so as not to overcook them when added into the pasta to heat through.

If you prefer your vegetables a little softer then simply cook them for a few minutes longer before adding in the cooked pasta. You can also lightly cook and cool your peas before chopping into the pesto. Take extra care not to overcook them or they might resemble mushy peas rather than sweet little petit pois.

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Vegan Spring Pesto Pasta

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Total time: 35 minutes

Yields: 2 Portions

Vegan Spring Pesto Pasta Recipe

Ritual: Mindful Meditation
Character: Fresh and Zingy
Essence: Spring Herb Garden

  • Spring Pesto
  • 1 Cup Fresh Basil
  • 1 Cup Fresh Spinach
  • 1 Cup Freshly or Frozen Petit Pois
  • 1/3 Cup Pine Nuts
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  • Zest of 1 Unwaxed Lemon
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Spring Pasta
  • 200g Dried Pasta
  • 1 Cup Finely Chopped Spring Onion
  • 1 Cup Finely Chopped Fresh Asparagus
  • 1 Cup Chopped Purple Sprouting Broccoli
  • Juice of 1 Unwaxed Lemon
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Wash and chop the vegetables for the spring pasta and set aside.

Boil 2 litres of water in the kettle and add to a deep bottomed pan with a generous sprinkle of salt.

Carefully add the pasta to the pan and bring back to the boil. Cook your pasta according to packet instructions until firm to the bite, approximately 12 minutes depending on your chosen pasta.

Whilst the pasta cooks prepare your pesto.

Secure a chopping board to the worktop by placing a damp kitchen towel beneath the board to minimise movement during chopping.

Sprinkle 2 peeled garlic cloves with salt and chop until finely minced.

Add the basil and spinach to the board and continue to chop until fine.

Top the herbs with the peas and pine nuts, chopping coursely into the mixture.

Zest the lemon and sprinkle over salt, pepper and nutritional yeast and mix thoroughly.

If you're short on time you can create the pesto in a food processor. It will lose some of its fresh, crunchy character and resemble more of a traditional paste which is why I prefer to hand chop.

Heat a large pan on medium and add the olive oil.

Briskly stir fry the broccolli, asparagus and spring onions for 2 minutes.

Once cooked and drained add the pasta to the pan of vegetables and stir through the pesto.

Squeeze over the lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste.

What’s in season in your neck of the woods? Let me know what’s cooking in the comments below.

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