I’ve had a tub of pesto staring at me in my fridge for the past week and I finally decided its fate yesterday. I’m a bit of a sucker when it comes to grocery shopping, and love buying all sorts of things that I really have no plan for. Pesto fell into that category… and so was born this Creamy Avocado Pesto Pasta Salad!
This pasta salad gets its creaminess from healthy avocados that are rich in heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fats and can be made ahead (just leave out the arugula and add it in just before serving). In fact, the arugula or spinach is optional (arugula has a peppery but slightly bitter taste, spinach is milder), I just personally look for any chance to eat more greens so love the addition! This salad can serve as a blank canvas for your dinner or lunch: should you wish, add diced olives, mini bocconcini, marinated artichokes or even canned chickpeas or some grilled chicken to make it a more filling meal. You can easily find vegan pesto at most of the natural food stores if you are wanting to make this vegan (we found some in the freezer section of Nature’s Fare Markets  and it tasted great… AND it was nut free for any of you pesto lovers that can’t eat pine nuts).
- 250 g. dry pasta (I used bow tie)
- 3/4 cup prepared pesto
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 2 cups lightly packed arugula or baby spinach leaves
- 1/2 long English cucumber, diced
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 1/4 cup shredded fresh basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until the pasta is al dente (just done) and drain in a colander. Rinse the pasta with cold water to stop the cooking and set it aside.
- In a mini food processor combine the pesto, avocado and lemon juice. Process until the mixture is smooth.
- Combine the cooked pasta along with the remaining ingredients and the avocado pesto dressing and toss together to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.