As fall continues to settle in here, my desire for cozying up in oversized sweaters, drinking warm beverages, and consuming everything made of pumpkin is really kicking into high gear. However, I do have to admit the taste of summer has still been lingering at least somewhat over the past few weeks, which tempted me to whip up something basil-related before we officially step into the colder months.
So... this happened.
Pesto has been one of my favorite sauces ever since my days living in Italy. I can still remember this one restaurant my two roommates and I ventured into after a day full of hiking in Cinque Terre, serving the most fresh and rich pesto pasta dish. With the Italian Riveria being the home of pesto, it was undeniably the best I've ever had.
Although this pesto sauce differs from traditional pesto in the sense that it does not contain any dairy and lacks pine nuts, it's made to be plant-based friendly and much more filling thanks to the healthy fats from avocado and cashews. It has a thicker consistency, making it a great dip alongside chips or veggies as well. I paired it with gnocchi for this recipe, but it is very adaptable and can also be made with brown rice pasta or even spiraled zucchini for a lighter variation.
Gnocchi with Cashew Pesto Cream Sauce
1 ripe avocado
1.5 C. raw unsalted cashews
1 big handful of fresh basil leaves
juice of 1 lemon
3 Tbsp water
1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (to give it that cheesy flavor)
1 clove garlic
pinch of sea salt
1 box of gnocchi (I used Trader Joe's)
water for boiling
Directions: Place water in a large pot and set on high heat until it comes to a boil. In the meantime, begin to prep your pesto sauce. Place raw cashews into a food processor, and pulse until nuts are crumbled fairly well. Take out a few tablespoons worth, and set aside for the topping. Continue to prepare the pesto by adding all other ingredients except the gnocchi into the food processor. Blend on high until a thick sauce begins to form.
Once water is boiling, drop gnocchi into the water and cook for around five minutes, or until gnocchi float at the top of the water. Drain immediately to avoid overcooking. Place the few remaining cashew crumbles on a pan, and set to medium heat for a few minutes, until nuts are golden.
Transfer sauce into gnocchi pot and stir until well mixed. Transfer to a bowl, and garnish with toasted cashews.
*recipe inspired by deliciously ella