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Vegan Powerhouse Pesto Pasta

"Noah's younger brother has serious health issues and making food that everyone can eat can be challenging," says Noah's mom, Hilary. "This recipe is gluten-free and vegan, things that many people often think mean sacrificing favorite comfort foods or flavor. It took us a while to create a pesto recipe that was tasty, super healthy, and easy to make. We finally created one that is packed with just about everything a growing body needs. Noah likes this with Red, White, and Blue Salad -- strawberries, peeled and diced apples, and Main blueberries, served with a glass of soy milk." - Noah Koch, age 9, Maine

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients: 

  • 1 pound quinoa pasta (we like macaroni)
  • 2 ripe avocados, pitted and flesh scooped out
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves, plus a few leaves reserved for garnish
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half

Preparation:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and boil until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
  2. While the pasta is boiling, combine the avocados and spinach in a food processor and pulse briefly (about 6 times). Add the basil, walnuts, 1/4 cup cannellini beans, lemon juice, garlic, and pepper and pulse about 6 more times. With the food processor on, gradually add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream.
  3. Add 3/4 of the sauce to the cooked pasta, tossing gently to coat the noodles. Add the remaining sauce, as desired, and stir to coat the noodles evenly.
  4. To serve, transfer the pasta to a big pasta bowl (family-style) and top with the remaining cannellini beans and grape tomatoes. Garnish with the reserved basil.

431 calories; 8g protein; 58g carbohydrates; 20g fat (2.5g saturated fat); 83mg sodium

More information about the Kids' State Dinner:

  • Check out the other winning 2013 Kids' State Dinner Recipes here.
  • Learn more about Kids' State Dinner here.