Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fresh Ginger and Basil Pasta--Green, Vegan, Healthy Goodness

When spring arrives my thoughts turn to fresh, green and light food like this vegan pasta dish from "Fast & Fresh Vegan Pleasures: More than 140 Delicious, Creative Recipes to Nourish Aspiring and Devoted Vegans" by Amanda Grant. I loved the idea of a pesto-style sauce but one made with fresh ginger, a bit of cilantro and some sesame and peanut oils added to the normal garlic and basil. It's dairy free and serving it with some rice pasta makes it gluten free too. I added some local multi-colored baby tomatoes for their color, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds for added texture. Using the rice noodles and preparing the sauce while the pasta is cooking means that you can have this dish on the table in under 20 minutes.

Grant says, "One of the great advantages of vegan cooking is that the flavors of fresh herbs and roots such as garlic and ginger are not masked by dairy products. They remain clean, crisp and fresh. Wherever and whenever possible, I eat garlic and ginger in their most effective state: raw. Garlic is especially good for improving the body’s immune system."

Fresh Ginger and Basil Pasta
Fast & Fresh Vegan Pleasures by Amanda Grant
(Serves 4)
Prep Time: 10 minutes / Cooking Time: 10 minutes, depending on the type of pasta

1 Tbsp peeled, roughly chopped fresh ginger
1 Tbsp cilantro
3 Tbsp fresh basil leaves
2 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 Tbsp peanut oil
2 Tbsp sesame oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 oz pasta of your choice
handful of basil leaves, roughly torn

Put the ginger, cilantro, basil, garlic and peanut and sesame oils in a food processor, and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Set the sauce aside.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, and cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Drain, return the pasta to the saucepan, and add the sauce. Toss well. Scatter fresh basil over the top, and serve.

Per serving: Calories 335, Protein 10g, Fat 6g, (Sat 1g), Carbohydrates 64g, Fiber 2.5g, Calories from fat 16%

Notes/Results: Really good--the pungency of the ginger and raw garlic is tempered by the sesame oil and it has great flavor. The sweetness of the tomatoes works really well here and makes the dish feel more well-rounded. I did add more cilantro (3 Tbsp like the basil) because one tablespoon just didn't seem like near enough, and I also added a bit of water to the sauce to thin it down. I made two servings worth of the rice pasta and felt like I had the right amount of sauce, so if I was making this for four I would double the sauce recipe. If you have to have protein (it's OK, I am not judging--sometimes I have to have it too!), shrimp, chicken or tofu would work well with the more Asian flavors. A quick and easy dish for a busy week and one that is perfect for warmer spring and summer weather--I would make it again.

I am going to send this healthy, delicious pasta to Ruth's Presto Pasta Nights event, being hosted this week by Daphne at More Than Words. Check out Daphne's blog on Friday for a round-up of the many delicious pasta dishes.

Happy Tax Day! ;-)


  1. This is gorgeous! I love the sound of this sauce...I am always in the mood for pesto! Especially when it has cilantro. 1 tbsp? WTF?

  2. Yum! it looks so fresh and tasty! thanks for the lovely entry.

  3. This is a truly lovely pasta salad. The colors are a lure that makes fresh and healthy eating easy. I hope you are having a wonderful day...Mary

  4. I liked the quote "One of the great advantages of vegan cooking is that the flavors of fresh herbs and roots such as garlic and ginger are not masked by dairy products" I never really thought about it that way before, but dairy products do mask flavors.
    And, I agree with Joanne. One lonely tablespoon of cilantro? Good call adding more:D

  5. Even the die hard carnivores like me would love this dish ...just for a change of pace, of course ;-)

    Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Night.

  6. Wonderful recipe! I have never thought to include ginger in a pesto, and it really sounds delicious. I'm going to make this with soba noodles. Yum!

  7. This sounds like a super antioxidant pasta dish! I am also looking forward to the lighter meals as the climate warms up.

  8. Hey! I just wanted to let you know I linked to your blog on my most recent post. I was actually searching for a canned-soup-free tuna casserole recipe last night and found a post of your from 2009! It was so wonderful! Thank youuu!! It was so delicious and pure and wonderful :)

  9. Kat--thanks!

    Joanne--I echo you on the pesto love! ;-) I was surprised at how little cilantro was in the recipe too--the more the better.

    Daphne--thanks for hosting! Can't wait to see the round-up. ;-)


    Kim--I think dairy products have their place for sure but having been going without them lately for my allergies and breathing, I am finding some terrific dishes and tastes without them.

    Ruth--thanks! You know I love my meat but I like to take some trips to veggie land too. It's good for the body and soul ;-)

    Nancy--thanks! I think it would be fabulous with soba noodles. ;-)

    Christine--thanks! It is nice to have the lighter dishes front and center now. ;-)

    Nicole--I am so glad you liked the recipe. I was thinking about it the other day--craving tuna casserole. I'll come take a look at yours! ;-)

  10. Wow this looks great! I love the fresh green colour in the dish and the fresh herbs sound so good!

  11. Lovely pasta dish! I like the fresh ginger here!

  12. I can't wait to get my hands on some fresh basil. It should be ready in the garden in a few weeks. This dish looks so great definitely a winning way to use it.

  13. This is so bright and fresh! The pesto is very uniquely flavored. It sounds just delicious - I bet it would be wonderful with shrimp too.

  14. This looks wonderful - sadly, basil is now starting to get fairly thin on the ground here now, and getting to the tail end of good tomatoes as well, so I will be bookmarking this for next summer.

  15. Cynthia--thank you! ;-)

    Natasha--mahalo! It is a pretty green.

    Lori--It is a fun way to use good, fresh basil.

    Reeni--thanks! I think shrimp, fish or chicken would all work really well.

    Andreas--thank you!

    Sue--Here we have them pretty much year round which is nice. (Although I do miss the seasons!) ;-)


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