ROASTED GARLIC SPINACH PESTO
This is the best of alfredo and pesto. Lots of flavor, and creamy texture throughout. Tastes good at room temperature. You’re going to love this one!
Pesto makes 4 cups; pasta dish serves 8-10
2 c. walnut halves
1/2 c. roasted garlic cloves (I used Christopher Ranch brand)
1 t. sea salt
2 oz. fresh basil leaves, about 3 moderately firmly packed cups
1/2 c. Liquid Butter Alternative (GFS)
1 t. food grade citric acid
1/4 t. red cayenne pepper
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 c. Tofutti Cream Cheese – dairy free
2.5 lbs. fresh spinach
1/2 t. citric acid
salt to taste
1 lb. dried pasta spinach nests, I used Gia Russa brand, cooked in lots of boiling salted water till tender, drained well
1/4 c. fresh lemon squeeze
1/4 c. ready to use chopped garlic plus a little liquid from jar
2 t. garlic powder
1 t. smoked paprika
1 t. sea salt or to taste
freshly ground black pepper
2 c. spinach pesto (there will be 2 cups leftover for another use)
2 c. red grape tomatoes, halved
Place walnuts in food processor and process till evenly mealy.
Add garlic cloves and salt and process till mealy again.
Add basil leaves and process till completely incorporated.
Transfer to large bowl.
Add Liquid Butter Alternative, citric acid, red cayenne pepper and several twists freshly ground black pepper. Stir till all ingredients are evenly distributed.
Now add Tofutti Cream cheese and stir till no white from the cheese is visible. Adjust for salt. Refrigerate till ready to use.
When ready to make pasta dish:
Cook spinach in boiling water for a few minutes till tender but still bright green. Drain in colander, push against sides gently to remove most of liquid. Transfer to tofu cloth, wrap, twist and squeeze to extract all excess liquid.
Transfer to bowl.
Add 2 cups pesto to spinach, stirring to completely incorporate.
Add 1/2 t. additional citric acid and salt to taste. Stir well.
When pasta is cooked and drained well, transfer to very large bowl.
Add to the pasta: lemon juice, ready to use chopped garlic, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Toss well to evenly coat pasta, making sure that all seasoning is dissolved and evenly distributed. Use your hands for this.
Add pesto and tomatoes to pasta, and again using hands, evenly disperse all ingredients.
Transfer to serving platter. Garnish with lemon slices if desired.
Notes: Use leftover spinach pesto as a condiment side vegetable, or on an antipasto platter, or surrounded with flatbread or French baguette as a spread.
The citric acid imparts a citrus flavor/sensation without the addition of liquid. Sometimes I flavor filtered water with a little to drink as a beverage, when I don’t have any lemon or juice in the house.