Spicy Avocado Pesto Pasta
I propose that all grocery clear a place on the shelf right beside the Frank’s Hot Sauce for Spicy Avocado Pesto: you are going to want this stuff on everything.
Luxuriously creamy, lightly spiced, and packed with super foods avocado and arugula, this velvety green wonder sauce comes together in minutes and is lovely on everything from sandwiches to toast to pasta. I tossed ours with whole wheat noodles and plump cherry tomatoes for a bright, healthy dinner that was on the table in fewer than 20 minutes.
The base of the Spicy Avocado Pesto is a riot of green: creamy avocados, peppery arugula, sassy cilantro, lively lime, and zesty jalapeños. To control the spice level of the sauce, leave as much of the jalapenos’ seeds and membranes as you dare. The first time I made this avocado pesto, I removed both and found the jalapeño flavor a little too subtle, so the second time, I left about half and thought Goldilocks would approve: the heat was juuuuuuust right.
The cooking “directions” for avocado pesto are as simple as dump and go. A few whirrrrrs of the food processor transform the ingredients into a sumptuous sauce that tastes decedent but is entirely healthy, thanks to nutritious, naturally creamy avocado.
Add a few handfuls of nutty, lightly salty Parmesan cheese, and this avocado pesto skyrockets to become alfredo sauce’s sexy first cousin. Tossed with whole wheat noodles, it offers all of the comforting decadence of fettuccini alfredo, without an ounce of the guilt.
What avocado pesto you don’t use for pasta is perfect spread on sandwiches (we had some on grilled cheese last night for dinner—divine!), mixed with scrambled eggs, or drizzled over Mexican-inspired dishes like these 10 Minute Black Bean Tostadas.
If you are a bit spice shy, you can always cut back on the jalapeno. You might also enjoy this not-at-all spicy Creamy Avocado Pasta, which uses lots of fresh herbs and Greek yogurt.
I’ve included the recipe for the avocado pesto pasta with tomatoes that we loved so much below, and if you find new ways to use this green goodness, I’d love to hear all about them, and I’ll dedicate my third batch in 10 days to you too!
Spicy Avocado Pesto Pasta
- 14 ounces rotini pasta — or any kind of pasta you like
- 2 medium ripe avocados
- 2 cups loosely packed arugula
- 1 jalapeño pepper — cut into quarters (remove seeds and membrane for a mild pesto)
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, — plus additional for serving (omit if vegan or to make dairy free)
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes, — halved
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water, then toss with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. Place in a large serving bowl.
- Scoop the avocado into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the arugula, jalapeño, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Puree until smooth. Add the Parmesan cheese and puree again until incorporated. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as needed.
- Pour the avocado pesto over the pasta, then toss gently to combine. If the pasta seems too thick and sticky, add a bit of the reserved pasta water. Add the cherry tomatoes and toss to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with additional Parmesan as desired.
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