Strawberry Basil Pesto Sauce & Pasta Salad

Pesto is one of those things that most people love, but also fear because it’s typically so calorie dense and heavy in oil.  This delicious strawberry version is lightened but certainly not lacking.  And while most pestos are made with parmesan cheese, this one is simple and vegan.  Trust me, you won’t miss it.  Toss with pasta noodles, greens, or grains for a tasty enhancement to your meal!

Strawberry Basil Pesto Sauce

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(Print this recipe!)

Ingredients: (makes 1 cup pesto)

  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 10 medium strawberries
  • salt to taste
  • cracked pepper to taste

Instructions:  In my opinion, there is nothing in the world quite as fragrant or wonderful as fresh basil.  I am embarrassed to admit that I am a hardcore plant murderer, but somehow I have kept this basil going for almost two months!

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Start by tearing about 1 cup of basil leaves and adding to your food processor

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Add olive oil, almonds, and lemon juice, and pulse until well combined.  Almonds should be chopped very small when finished.

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Add strawberries (with tops removed) and pulse until smooth. 

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Season generously with salt and pepper.  Grab a spoon.  Try not to freak out about your amazing (vegan) strawberry pesto.

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Seriously, SO good.

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Spoon into a jar and save for using as a sauce or dressing for your next dish!

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I used mine to make a delicious seasonal pasta salad for a summer ingredient challenge cook-off party

Strawberry Pesto Pasta Salad

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(Print this recipe!)

Ingredients:  (serves 6)

  • 1 bag gluten-free brown rice fusilli pasta
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 medium cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, whole
  • 2 cups arugula leaves, whole
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup strawberry basil pesto sauce (see above)

Instructions:  Cook pasta according to directions – do not overcook!  Allow pasta to cool slightly, then add to a large bowl with strawberries, cucumber, basil, arugula, and almonds. 

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Toss to combine.  Add pesto sauce and stir to make sure salad is evenly coated. 

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Finish seasoning with salt and pepper.  Serve warm or cold.

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Enjoy!