I’ve been gone from the posting for a while. My job is kind of crazy and it has been particularly so lately. Please forgive me. Anyway I’M BACK BABY! And I’ve been stockpiling recipes THE WHOLE TIME I’VE BEEN GONE. This recipe from my “Vegetarian Planet” cookbook has been altered to fit a vegan lifestyle. I switched out the prescribed cheese for extra firm tofu. At first it might seem crazy, but I have to tell you it’s not. There are a couple of good reasons for you to try switching out the cheese in your pesto with tofu. For one, it immediately makes it a great dish to serve when vegans or vegetarians come to dinner. For another, cheese is also pretty high in fat and subbing it with tofu cuts a good chunk of the fat content. This is a great option if you’re trying to shed a couple of pounds. Extra firm tofu, once well drained, has a smooth cheese-like texture. Although it won’t taste exactly like cheese, its texture will work well in the pesto and since tofu has the benefit of absorbing flavors it will blend seamlessly in with the rest of the pesto ingredients. This is one of the simplest substitutions I know. If you don’t want to give up all of your cheese taste, try subbing half. Or use your cheese as a garnish on top rather than in the pesto sauce (hence, probably using a bit less of it). But seriously try this substitution, even if you’re not a huge tofu fan. I swear it doesn’t taste horrible and it may just be the recipe that gets you interested in using tofu more regularly in your diet (can someone say protein boost?).
Pasta with Arugula Pesto
1/4 cup walnut pieces
2-3 large garlic cloves, halved
2 cups chopped arugula, firmly packed
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup extra firm tofu, drained and cut into chunks
salt, to taste
1 pinch cayenne
Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast to garnish
1. Blend the walnuts, garlic, arugula, basil, tofu, salt and cayenne till coarsely chopped.
2. While the machine is still running, add the olive oil in a thin stream. Once the pesto reaches the consistency you prefer, stop the blender and transfer the pesto to a bowl.
3. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook your pasta as the package directs.
4. Once the pasta is cooked and drained, place it in a bowl and toss it with the pesto. Add a little water to help distribute the pesto, if needed.