Delicious and stress free weekday meals are about convenience. Having meals or part of your meals prepped in the freezer is heaven sent. Make a bulk batch of pesto to store in the freezer for quick weekday eats (pasta, pizza, cracker dip, etc…). Now is the perfect time to raid your garden for fresh basil, before the frost sets in (or, buy a few bunches at the grocery store). I like to freeze the sauce in an ice cube tray and then transfer the cubes to a freezer bag or container for easy access.
This recipe is my take on the traditional pesto sauce. I substituted heart healthy walnuts or macadamia nuts for pine nuts and removed the cheese to make it dairy free. It can always be added by those who want it, but we find it’s not needed as this sauce is packed with flavour. (My Aunt, who doesn’t like pesto, loves this.) If you want it nut free, sunflower seeds have also worked really well in this recipe (I used them out of desperation once and was surprised how good it tasted), and is a great option for school lunches. (See my wild leek pesto pasta for another variation of this recipe.)
My kids and I call this pesto sauce, ‘Bazil’s pasta’ as a way to honour and celebrate their brother, who was stillborn. His name is Bazil. And like the strong, key ingredient in this meal – basil, Bazil is a key ingredient in our ability to find strength, beauty and growth in life. So, it’s an extra cherished meal in our house.
gluten free, dairy free, vegan, raw, nut free option
makes 6-8 servings
• your favourite bag of gluten free pasta* (or non, if you prefer) – my kids and I love Tinkyada’s Brown Rice Penne
• 2-4 cups fresh basil, lightly packed (big difference, I know; I‘ve used both and it works well. 4 cups will give a more vibrant green colour. Use what you have, or what you prefer.)
• 1/3 cup walnut halves
• 1/4-1/3 c extra virgin olive oil (roasted walnut oil is also great)
• 1 clove garlic (or more if you prefer)
• 1 tsp sea salt
• sundried tomatoes: dice up a few and add them after you mix the sauce with the pasta
• parsley: 1/4 c lightly packed, puree into the sauce
• grilled chicken: grill and lay thin slices on top of the pasta or dice the chicken and mix with the pasta
• grilled asparagus: when in season, lay a few grilled spears along side of the grilled chicken
*Go-go Quinoa has a fusilli gluten free pasta that is great for staying el dente (great for soups!) and is more white, so holds the green colour really well. See my wild leek pesto pasta (link above) – you will see how the green pops more then with the brown rice pasta pictured here. (Note to self, if you are having a dinner party and are concerned about presentation.) Also, the Tinkyada pasta is mush free so it too stays nice and hard. I always undercook mine by 2 minutes.
Cook the pasta while you make the sauce. Blend all ingredients until smooth. After you drain (and rinse – some gluten free pasta requires a quick rinse with water) the pasta, put the noodles and the sauce into the warm pot – mix and serve.