Creamy pesto, coconut “bacon,” avocado, garbanzo beans, tomatoes…this pasta dish practically screams summer! But this quick and easy vegan meal is perfect to enjoy all year long.
Creamy Pesto Pasta with Coconut "Bacon"
I had a few errands to run in LA yesterday. The highlight of the trip was that I had a little extra time to stop by my favorite place, Ladurée, for macarons. And I stopped at my favorite chocolate shop to the stars, Edelweiss Chocolates.
Errands are always a little easier to handle when you get chocolate and macarons out of the deal, right? 😋
A No Stress Meal
Still, it was a pretty exhausting day, so when I got home last night, I was immediately relieved when I remembered that dinner was already made, and I could just take it easy.
I made this Creamy Pesto Pasta with Coconut “Bacon” in the morning before I left, so all we had to do to get dinner on the table was take it out of the fridge and serve! Creamy pesto, garbanzo beans, avocado, tomato, and my coconut “bacon” make this vegan dish a meal all by itself.
This is certainly one of those meals that’s great cold, room temperature, or warm. And since I blanched the basil before making the pesto, the pesto was still brilliant green by the time we enjoyed dinner.
Blanching Basil Is SO Easy
Have you blanched basil before?
It’s so easy, all you do is bring a small pot of water to a boil, submerge the basil for about 15 seconds, then strain the basil, and immediately place it in a bowl of cold water. Pat the leaves dry, and make pesto!
This extra step will help your homemade pesto stay green longer without preservatives. It’s a trick I don’t do all the time, but with a pasta dish like this that can be enjoyed over several meals—or if we’re entertaining—I want that pesto to stay gorgeous green as long as possible, and blanching is the way to go.
Now to the “bacon.” If you’re vegan, you’re probably already a fan of coconut as a surprisingly accurate bacon clone. And if you’ve never had it before, you must give it a try!
Coconut chips get that crispy, bacon texture when baked. So all you have to do is add that bacon flavor with a little bit of maple syrup, Bragg Liquid Aminos, liquid smoke, and olive oil. Just toss it all together, bake for 10 minutes, and you’ve got delicious plant-based bacon that’s great in this pasta dish, and for topping just about anything you can think of. I also have a tendency to just snack on this coconut “bacon” all day long, all by itself…
My Favorite Coconut Chips for Coconut Bacon
Coconut chips aren’t available everywhere, so I found my favorite brand here on Amazon [aff. link]. You’ll love these coconut chips for “bacon,” and as a stand alone snack.
Bragg Aminos for Coconut Bacon
And in case you’re unfamiliar with Bragg Liquid Aminos, it’s basically a healthier and tastier alternative to soy sauce. Since trying Bragg Liquid Aminos years ago, I’ve stopped using soy sauce: the flavor of Bragg’s is so much richer and smokier, yet there’s no salt added and it’s lower in sodium. So it tastes better and it’s healthier…who wouldn’t be a fan??
If you don’t have Bragg Liquid Aminos at your grocery store, here it is on Amazon [aff. link]. Trust me, coconut “bacon” is not the only deliciousness you’ll make with this stuff, it’s so good!
Enjoy a Break and a Delicious Meal!
Make my Creamy Pesto Pasta with Coconut “Bacon” this week, and appreciate the relaxed evening this quick, easy, and completely delicious meal will bring!
Creamy Pesto Pasta with Coconut “Bacon”
For the pesto:
- 3 cups basil
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup Vegenaise or mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup cashew pieces
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
For the coconut bacon:
- 2 1/3 cups coconut chips
- 3 tsp maple syrup
- 2 tsp Bragg Liquid Aminos, (you can use soy sauce if you don't have aminos, but I highly reccomend getting some Bragg Liquid Aminos!)
- 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 pound pasta
- 1 avocado, chopped
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
- Additional olive oil
- Fleur de sel, for sprinkling
Make the coconut bacon
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Put the coconut chips, maple syrup, aminos, liquid smoke, and olive oil on a standard-sized baking sheet. Toss everything together, then spread the coconut chips out in one, thin layer.
- Bake for 5 minutes, then remove the baking sheet from the oven, and flip the coconut bacon over so that a different side of each piece (just do your best!) is face down on the baking sheet.
- Put the baking sheet back in the oven, and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
- Coconut bacon is done!
Make the pasta
- Before you make the creamy pesto, start boiling the water for the pasta, and cook the pasta according to package instructions.
- By the time the pasta is finished cooking, the pesto will be ready.
Make the creamy pesto
- Add the basil, garlic clove, salt, and cashews to the food processor. Pulse a few times to get things going, then process until the basil and cashews are finely ground.
- Now add the Vegenaise/mayonnaise and olive oil. Process again until everything is incorporated and mostly smooth. Creamy pesto is done!
Optional: blanche the basil leaves
- Note: if you would like to blanche the basil before making the pesto—which will help the pesto stay brilliant green on the pasta longer—here’s what you do:
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil, then carefully lower the basil leaves in. Let them boil for 15 seconds, then drain the basil and submerge in very cold water to stop the leaves from cooking.
- Once the leaves are completely cool, take the basil out of the cold water, pat dry, and they’re ready to add to the food processor with the other pesto ingredients.
Bring it all together
- Once the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and put it back in the pot. Add the tomatoes, avocado, and garbanzo beans. Drizzle a little olive oil and fleur de sel over everything, and gently toss.
- Now add in the creamy pesto and some coconut bacon. Start with about half of the creamy pesto and about a third of the coconut bacon. Gently toss until the creamy pesto coats all the pasta.
- Note: you can add the creamy pesto to the pasta while the pasta is still warm, or wait until the pasta is room temperature. In my experience, the pesto will stay green longer if it is tossed into room temperature pasta. Be sure to rinse the pasta in cold water if you don’t add the pesto right away. This will prevent the pasta from all sticking together as it cools.
- Taste, and add additional fleur de sel and creamy pesto, if desired.
Serve and enjoy!
- Sprinkle additional coconut bacon on top of each individual serving, and enjoy this pasta salad warm, room temperature, or cold.
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My Favorite Kitchen Find
Aren’t these little pink ramekins adorable? I use mine for making personal-sized desserts, like these cakelettes, as well as for prep work, and for storing food in the refrigerator. These are such a stylish addition to the kitchen! Click to view my favorite on Amazon
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