Thursday, July 7, 2011

Avocado Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Zucchini

Summer in Portland is the best anywhere. The beautiful clear days, lush greenery and plethora of outdoor related activities and events make all those long rainy fall/winter/spring days seem worth it. The Summer Farmers Markets alone make living in Portland worth it. The local food and farm community that we have here is so wonderful and they have taken huge steps to make local food affordable and accessible. Check out some of these great local farms (many of which offer CSAs as well!)
  • Baird Family Orchards (Cherries are in season - EAT THEIR RAINIERS!)
  • Groundwork Organics (Based in Junction City - they offer a killer CSA)
  • Spring Hill Farm (They always have a huuuge booth at the downtown market)
  • Unger Farms (The best strawberries I've ever had. And they have a U-pick as well!)
  • Wag Eggs (The owner of this farm works with my uncle and let me tell you, he treats his chickens magnificently. The man knows his hens)
This week, aside from Strawberries being in the last week or so of their heavy fruiting season and blueberries hitting the beginning of their season, Zucchini (my favorite of the squashes) were 2 for $1 at my one of my favorite little farm stands (Spring Hill). And basil was $3 for a bunch as big as a small bouquet of flowers. Accordingly, I purchased four huge zucchini--two yellow, two green--and one giant bunch of basil, all for less than the price of a latte. What did I do with all of the delicious farm fresh goods, you ask? I did this: 

BBQ-Ready Summertime Pasta Salad!

The recipe is pretty simple and has no added oils - only the oil from the avocado :) The main thing with this recipe, however, is that you want to make it shortly before serving because otherwise the avocado will begin to brown and will make the whole thing look a little frumpy and un-summery. 

Avocado Pesto Pasta Salad
  • 1 package bowtie (farfelle) pasta (whole what if you can find it!)
  • 2 large zucchini, sliced and grilled
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 3 large handfuls of basil (this is difficult to measure, but go overboard if you're worried - you can never have too much basil!)
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Braggs or soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper or 2 tsp Sriracha (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add in the bowtie pasta. Boil for about 12-14 minutes, depending on the type of pasta you are using. When the pasta is cooked fully, drain it in a large colander and run it under cold water until the pasta is cool to the touch.

Place the garlic, basil, avocados, walnuts, lemon juice and Braggs into the food processor. Pulse for 20-30 seconds or until smooth. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides as needed.

Add in the nutritional yeast and seasoning and pulse a few more times.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, the avocado pesto and both kinds of tomatoes until everything is evenly coated. Then gently stir in all but 8 or so slices of zucchini. Garnish the top of the pasta with the remaining slices and a basil leaf and pop in the fridge for 15 minutes or so and then serve!

Note on grilling zucchini: You can do this on a BBQ or simply on the stove top. I just coated a pan with a very thin layer of sunflower oil and then browned the zucchini rounds lightly on each side over medium heat (about 3 minutes on each side).

Live long and prosper! And support your local farmers!

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