With so much basil in my herb garden (I’m giving it away in handfuls) and the farmer’s market that is blowing up with the flavors of summer, I spent the other night getting creative in my kitchen. The end result, although a tad richer than some of my culinary experiments, was so wonderful I couldn’t keep this creation to myself. So here you are, a recipe full of whole, delicious foods, phytochemicals, nutrients, and vitamins.
Pesto, which can be made from any fresh herb, is a vibrant condiment full of flavor and so easy to make. Experimenting with pesto will allow you to experience the non-nutrient phytochemicals in herbs that provide anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and antioxidant properties that protect our bodies and cells from pain, illness and free radical damage. Additionally, lycopene, an extremely powerful antioxidant is present in the tomatoes and it is protecting our bodies from skin, stomach, lung, prostate, cervical and bladder cancers. Also present in this recipe is a range of vitamins and nutrients as long as one can think of. And the soy, which is a legume, combined with the whole grain of the pasta, will create a complete protein, providing our bodies with the essential and non-essential amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild tissues.
1 lb. pasta made from the whole grain of your choice (I used a delicious gluten-free variety made from quinoa and spinach)
12-15 spears of asparagus with the ends cut off and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 squash or zucchini sliced into thin discs
6-8 ½ thick slices of tofu (with the water pressed out)
For the Pesto:
2-3 cloves, depending on your preference, finely minced garlic
2 cups fresh basil leaves
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 hand full of pinenuts or walnuts
For the Sauce:
1 TB. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
2 juiced lemons (about ¼ cup lemon juice)
¼ cup of goat cheese
¼ cup of white wine
1 medium sized diced tomato
1. Take your tofu slices and place on paper towels, between two plates, to squeeze the water out.
2. Preheat your oven to 350 and cook pasta as directed on the box.
3. Put all of the pesto ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Coat the tofu with the pesto and place on a cookie sheet, place in the oven and bake 15-20 minutes, just until it starts to brown. The length of time will depend on the amount of water left in the tofu after pressing and the thickness of the slices.
4. While the tofu is baking, lightly blanch your vegetables so that they are still slightly firm.
5. In a skillet heat the olive oil for the sauce, when it is hot, add the tomatoes salt and pepper and cook until tomatoes begin to soften. Add the goat cheese and stir until melted. Finally, add the white wine and lemon juice and simmer for approximately 10 minutes, until flavors have blended together.
6. Toss pasta, vegetables and sauce together in a bowl and top with crusted tofu!