Pesto is an important part of my life, and you absolutely do not need Parmesan cheese to make it taste amazing. A good pesto is full of fresh basil, garlic, olive oil and nuttiness from pine nuts or whatever other fatty nut or seed you like. In this case, i have used a mix of Brazil nuts (very high in selenium), pistachios and pumpkin seeds. Zucchini noodles are a popular component to many raw dishes, but feel free to use whatever pasta you want. Zucchini noodles just make for a lighter, more hydrating meal. I've learned that to prepare them for recipes I need to let them sit and dry out a little bit, so when I add a sauce later, it doesn't become a soggy, wet mess. Zucchinis are a whole, fresh veggie and thus they are carrying a LOT of water, so it makes a huge difference when you let some of it drain off before throwing the noodles in a recipe.

Zucchini Noodles with Pumpkin Seed Pesto, Roasted Tomatoes and Tahini Chickpea Cakes [Vegan, Soy-Free]

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Serves

1-2 + leftover pesto

Cooking Time

30

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Ingredients

Roasted Tomatoes:

  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (optional) 

Zucchini Noodles:

  • 2 small to medium zucchinis

Pesto:

  • 1/2 cup Brazil nuts
  • 1/2 cup pistachios
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1 cup packed cilantro leaves
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Chickpea Cakes:

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, + more for cooking
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder

Toppings:

  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
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Preparation

  1. To roast the tomatoes, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Slice the tomatoes into quarters and drizzle in a little olive oil, if using. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until their juices are bubbling out and their skin is wrinkly. They should smell divine.
  2. To make the noodles, shred the zucchini into strips using a cheese grater, spiral slicer or mandoline. Put all the noodles into a colander and place the colander in a larger bowl; set aside while you make the rest of the recipe. This will allow the excess moisture in the zucchinis to drain so that when you coat them in pesto, it doesn’t become a soup.
  3. To make the pesto, throw all the ingredients in a food processor and process until evenly ground into a thick pesto. Adjust according to your taste preferences, adding more salt or garlic if you like. Note: we want to leave the pesto a bit thick because the zucchini noodles will lend a lot of moisture to the recipe. So if you are tempted to add extra olive oil or more lemon juice here, hold off for now.
  4. To make the chickpea cakes, mash the chickpeas into a thick, clumpy paste by hand with a fork or potato masher, or in a food processor. Stir in the rest of the ingredients until you have a thick, savory dough-like mixture. Scoop it into cakes with an ice-cream scoop or by hand. I like my cakes to be about the size of my palm, and around an inch thick.
  5. Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil into a nonstick pan on low or medium-low heat, and let it warm up for a minute. To “fry” your cakes, cook them in the pan for 3 to 5 minutes on each side. They should get brown and crispy. Add more oil as needed.
  6. Coat the noodles in as much pesto as you desire. Scoop the noodles onto plates or in bowls, add the chickpea cakes and tomatoes and sprinkle everything with some more pumpkin seeds and cracked black pepper.
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