It wasn’t until I went vegan that I started to open myself up to experiencing new cuisine. I discovered just how bountiful the food world can be when one goes vegan (despite people believing the opposite). I delighted in Indian and Ethiopian food, as well as tempeh (which hails from Indonesia, I think!), but also had plenty of options from more “mainstream” fare in the form of Mexican and Italian food. Despite all the amazing international food options, Italian food is still my favorite. So of course, I was super excited to veganize this Italian Weight Watchers recipe.
The recipe is supposed to be a lighter form of pesto, with a twist (walnuts instead of pine nuts and the addition of lemon zest). However, the recipe doesn’t actually call for basil. How do you make pesto without basil?! Now you know why I put the word pesto in quotations in my title. Despite its lack of authenticity, this recipe is lovely. It’s light, it’s flavorful, and the accents of the lemon zest sprinkled amongst bright, lightly steamed kale really is very pretty.
As per usual, I made a few substitutions in order to put a vegan spin on it. I swapped the parmesan for vegan parmesan (made by Go Veggie) and instead of using elbow pasta, I used the quinoa pasta (made by Ancient Harvest) that I already had on-hand. That means this recipe is also gluten free. With the changes I made, the Points Plus value only increased by 1 PPV per serving. Not bad, I think.
- 2 1/2 oz uncooked macaroni, small elbow, (1/2 cup)
- 2 Tbsp peanut oil, or vegetable oil, divided
- 12 oz uncooked kale, Tuscan, center rib removed (I didn’t use Tuscan kale; I used the green curly kale since it was what was available at my grocery store)
- 1/4 cup(s) chopped walnuts
- 3 clove(s) (medium) garlic clove(s), smashed
- 1/4 cup(s) grated vegan Parmesan cheese
- 2 tsp lemon zest, (zest of 1 lemon)
- 3/4 tsp table salt
- In a 1-quart saucepan cook pasta according to package directions. Drain in a colander, rinse under cold water, and shake out excess water. Return to saucepan and toss with 1 tsp of oil.
- Meanwhile, in a 1 1/2 quart saucepan bring 1 quart water to a boil over high heat. Add kale and cook 1 minute or until bright green. Drain in a colander under cold water. Squeeze dry. Roughly chop.
- In a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet add walnuts and heat over medium-low heat stir-frying 2 to 3 minutes or until walnuts are just toasted. Transfer to a plate. Heat wok over high heat until a bead of water evaporates within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in remaining 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp of oil, add garlic and stir-fry 10 seconds or until fragrant. Add kale and pasta and stir-fry 1 minute or until just reheated.
- Remove from heat and sprinkle on vegan parmesan, lemon zest, salt and walnuts.
Since I brought it up, do you have a favorite cuisine? I’m always curious with all the delicious food that’s available what people gravitate towards. 😉