When I mooted the idea for this Tagliatelle with Avocado and Spinach ‘Pesto’ at home the first reaction was: “what, guacamole, on pasta? Yuk”, followed by “hot avocado? Just wrong.”. But who do you think had the last laugh? (Ha!). You’ll have to trust me on this – it really does work, give it a try.
The avocado makes the sauce rich and creamy, (despite being dairy-free), so you really do need the lemon juice and slow-roast tomatoes to cut through it. And don’t be tempted to serve this in enormous portions – a little goes a long way!
NB. Pesto is in inverted commas as it is far from authentic – there’s no cheese in it, and the pine nuts are not blitzed with the rest of the ingredients but added afterwards to give a good crunch.
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- 3 large-ish tomatoes
- 200 g tagliatelle (or any other pasta shape would do!)
- 100 g french beans
- 2 ripe avocados
- handful fresh spinach (also works well with watercress)
- 6-8 fresh basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- juice of 1 lemon
- 25 g pine nuts
Ideally, you will need to start the slow-roast tomatoes off a couple of hours before you want to eat. If you don't have the time (or inclination!), a tub of deli semi-dried tomatoes or even half a jar of sun-dried tomatoes would work well here too.
Preheat the oven to 160°C / 320°F / Gas Mark 3. Quarter the tomatoes and place them skin-side down on a lightly oiled baking tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Place in the oven for at least an hour, or until the edges are starting to blacken. At this point, squash them with a fork to release the juices, then flip them over so they are skin-side up. Scatter over the pine nuts. Turn the oven off but leave them in there until needed.
Top and tail the french beans, leaving them whole. In a large pan, put the tagliatelle and french beans on to boil together.
Meanwhile, in a food processor blitz together the avocado, spinach, basil, garlic and lemon juice. (NB don't be tempted to do this too far in advance or it will lose its colour). Add some water and blitz until the consistency is that of a thick sauce (rather than something you could stand a spoon in) - this will be about 50ml water, but will depend on your avocados. Season with salt and black pepper to your taste.
When al-dente, drain the tagliatelle and beans and return to the pan. Pour in the sauce, and then add the tomatoes and pine nuts. (You may want to slice the tomatoes into smaller pieces, depending on how large they were to start with). Turn on the heat for a minute or so to heat the sauce through, then serve immediately.
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