Pesto Pasta Salad and Cookies

With it being 4th of July weekend and cookouts happening everywhere you look, I thought I would share a couple of the recipes that I made for the festivities. When thinking of something to take to a cookout, it’s definitely easy to keep it simple with fruit salad, brownies, or chips and dip. However, I generally like to mix it up a bit. This could be good or bad because sometimes my family and friends are a little leery of what I may bring to the party. This year, I decided to take two typically-made dishes, pasta salad and cookies, and put my own twist on them.

Pesto Pasta Salad
1 box tri-colored rotini pasta (I used Ronzoni veggie pasta)
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1 bundle of asparagus, lightly steemed and chopped (make sure it is tender but still crisp)
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
3 cups fresh spinach
1/2 cup walnut halves
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (you could use Parmesan cheese)
1/4 cups chopped, fresh basil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste (if you use Parmesan cheese, you may not need salt)
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Cook pasta according to package, drain, rinse lightly with cool water, and set aside to cool. Chop and prepare veggies while pasta is cooking.
2. To make the pesto, place spinach, basil, garlic, walnuts, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper into a food processor and blend until well combined. With the motor running, gradually add the olive oil and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
3. In a large bowl, combine pasta, chopped veggies, and pesto. Gently fold pesto into the pasta/veggie mixture until everything is evenly coated. You may not use all of the pesto.
4. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour, taste test and add more pesto or adjust seasoning as needed.

Lemon Pistachio Cookies with Dried Blueberries (adapted from the Conscious Cook)
1 cup pistachio flour (to make your own, freeze shelled pistachios, then process them until a flour-like consistency)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp ground flax seeds
1/2 tsp baking powder
8 Tbsp Earth Balance vegan butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp agave nectar
zest of 2 lemons
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup dried blueberries

1. Combine pistachio flour, whole wheat flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, and ground flax in the food processor and pulse a few times to mix and grind the pistachio flour a little finer.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the Earth Balance, brown sugar, and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add the lemon juice and agave nectar and beat well.
3. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Fold in the dried blueberries.
4. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and drop spoonfuls of dough onto sheet. Gently press down slightly. Bake in a 350F oven for about 12 minutes. Until the edges are lightly brown.
5. Let cool and enjoy!



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