Chickpea “Chicken” Pesto Pasta – dinner under 30 minutes!

Chickpea “Chicken” Pesto Pasta – dinner under 30 minutes!

Sometimes just when you think you have nothing to make for dinner, you find that with just a bit of creativity you can make something that is good enough that you want to share!  Tonight I  didn’t know what to make but had some cashews that had been soaking for a week.  Every time I opened the fridge I was reminded that they deserved to be the star of a meal and fast!

So what to do with cashews?  Make pesto!  With just a few ingredients you can make an amazing pesto!  It is so versatile it can be used on pasta, bread, “chicken,” roasted vegetables, well really pretty much anything – it is that good!

Tonight’s pesto:

1 c. soaked unsalted cashews

1 c. baby kale

1 c. arugula

2 tbsps olive oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

3 cloves of garlic

salt and pepper (I am generous with both, use to your preference)

Place kale, arugula, cashews, lemon juice and garlic in food processor (by the way, I bought mine on Amazon for under $40 and it works great!) pulse until chunky.  Remove lid, scrape sides, add olive oil, salt and pepper.  Blend again until mixture is smooth.  You may find you need to scrape the sides a couple of times and if too thick add a bit more (slight amount) of olive oil (you can use water if you prefer not to add more oil.)  Taste – always taste and adjust, you may want more salt/pepper or lemon.  The arugula does add a peppery taste so for this version you definitely want to taste before adding more pepper.   Once done, set aside.

Chickpea Chicken Pasta:

1 bag Beyond Meat Chicken Strips

2 tbsps olive oil

2 cloves of garlic (or 2 frozen garlic cubes)

1 tbsp Earth Balance (vegan butter)

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp Italian spice mix

salt and pepper to taste

1 box Banza Chickpea Pasta

8 c. water (for pasta) – salted generously

Heat a frying pan with 2 tbsp olive oil.  Add two cloves of garlic (beware garlic can burn quickly, so frozen garlic cubes work great for this!) Add chicken strips.  Saute until heated, add 1 tbsp Earth Balance to pan, salt, pepper chicken.  Add 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp Italian spice mix, stir.  Allow to continue cooking to absorb flavor.

Begin pasta.  Boil water according to pasta package directions.  We use Banza Garbanzo bean pasta; gluten-free, vegan, clean and packed full of protein! The noodles generally take about 10 minutes.

We like the look and feel of rustic comfort food, so we mixed it all together:  Once pasta is done, scoop the pasta out of the boiling water directly into the chicken pan, stir pasta and chicken together.  It’s okay if a bit of pasta water gets into the pan.  Add pesto to the mixture, add grape tomatoes (we cut them in fourths) and serve.

If you are wanting a prettier presentation, place fresh arugula on each plate, dish pasta on top (using arugula as a frame, then place chicken on top, dollop pesto and add tomatoes.

Additional ideas for toppings to spice things up:

Vegan Parmesan

Chopped Parsley

Vegan Mozzarella Cheese