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Roasted Veggies and Pesto Pasta Salad

When I was younger, my favorite thing to have for dinner was pasta covered in butter and Parmesan cheese. Not much has changed since then, because I tend to make a big pot of pasta whenever I’m craving comfort food. These days I’m using gluten free pasta,  my favorite being  ones that are brown rice based, which seem to be more sturdy and similar to regular pasta. If you’ve never had a gluten free pasta before, try out a few different brands and variations to see what kind you prefer, as there can be difference in flavor based on the main ingredient (brown rice, quinoa, corn, etc.).

When putting this together for our Face Off, I wanted to use vegetables that would be able to keep their crunch and be about the same size as the pasta. Broccoli and cauliflower came to mind, and I added spinach, because I had some in my fridge and needed to use it up. The pesto was a combination of recipes I had seen before, but are really easy to make and can be a combination of different herbs or leafy greens, nuts and seeds that you have on hand. The pesto had a bit of a bite, because of the arugula and garlic, which  can be a nice variation from the sweetness of basil.

The real challenge of this Face Off was making sure my pesto was dairy free. Luckily, I had some nutritional yeast and  added it to to provide the same cheese flavor you would normally get from the parm. Turns out, I didn’t miss the cheese at all. This doesn’t mean I’m throwing out my parm anytime soon,  just that it’s nice to take a break every once and a while…


Roasted Veggies and Pesto Pasta Salad

Serves 4-6

1 box of Gluten Free Brown Rice Pasta, Fusilli or Penne
2 c broccoli florets
2 c cauliflower florets
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
2 c cooked chicken or tofu
1 c baby spinach
1/2 c arugula pesto (see recipe below)

Arugula Pesto

2 c of arugula
1 c of walnuts or cashews
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/2 c sunflower seeds
1/2 c nutritional yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 c water to thin out (add slowly, as needed)

Heat over to 425°F. Place the broccoli and cauliflower florets on a foil lined baking sheet, and generously drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast veggies for 30-40 minutes, flipping around the half way point. Make sure the veggies are tender, but not mushy.

While the veggies are cooking, make the pasta and the pesto. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box, and be sure to save some on the pasta water when done cooking. Using a food processor, pulse the walnuts and garlic until they start to come together. Add in the arugula, sunflower seeds and nutritional yeast, and start to slowly incorporate the olive oil a bit at a time. Add water if you nee to thin out the pesto, season with salt and pepper.

Add the pasta, spinach and cooked veggies to a large bowl. Add some of the pesto and start to gently mix. Use pasta water to help thin out if needed.

Once done, top with a few chopped arugula leaves, raw red onion, another dollop of pesto or parmesan cheese.

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