Confession: I sometimes forget that not everybody has all day to cook their dinner when I develop recipes. My frozen tofu bolognese trick, as delicious as it is, does require a little foresight. The vegan ‘ricotta’ herb and zucchini tart is probably not something to whip up after the gym. FODMAP friendly pesto pasta, however, is ready to go in 25. It’s also gluten free, vegan, and bloody delicious.
I’ve got a recipe for FODMAP friendly pesto in the cookbook, which is generally my go-to. However, I have also dabbled with hemp pesto, and rather enjoyed said dabbling. As a result, I decided to stick with the hemp theme, but make a FODMAP friendly and vegan pesto. Something for everyone! Fun!
Using hemp seeds for this recipe is entirely optional, although recommended. While you could substitute the hemp for additional pine nuts, the nutritional content of hemp seeds is pretty impressive.
I’ve noticed in recent times that, with all the recipe tests flying around my house, my eating habits ironically take a hit. Instead of eating a regular breakfast, I’ll eat yesterday’s banana bread experiment. Which is all well and good until your favourite skirt no longer fits. So, adding a bit of health to things is my new hobby, which is where the hemp, along with the pasta/zoodle split, come into play. Not because I’m punishing myself, but because I really like that skirt. Plus, anything to make pasta night a more regular occurrence, in my opinion.
FODMAP FRIENDLY PESTO PASTA: A RUNDOWN
Firstly, let’s chat about where to buy hemp seeds. In Australia, they are readily available at bulk food stores and health food stores, along with some supermarkets. As always, I recommend the bulk food store. You can buy just the right amount if you’re a first time hemp user, in the unlikely event you find them unpleasant. Which would be hard, because they basically taste creamy, but I digress. You’re also saving plastic, AND probably saving yourself from getting accumulating weevils in packets you never option. So many wins so little time.
Nutritional yeast, like hemp seeds, is available at bulk and health stores. I have also seen it at the supermarket. Look for a variety that A) isn’t packaged in plastic (hello bulk foods hello broken record!) and B) is fortified with vitamin B12. This is an excellent, cheesy way to get in some extra B if you’re vegan. Or if you’re not.
Pine nuts are considered FODMAP friendly in 1 tablespoon serves, but high in 8 tablespoon serves. This suggests to me that an OK intake would be somewhere in the middle. They’re an oligo fructan culprit, just in case that’s your thing. I find them pretty integral to a pesto taste, but I also enjoy a good walnut pesto (it’s more budget friendly, too!) Walnuts are friendly in 30g serves per person. Just make sure you add a bit of extra oil if you use walnuts, as they are a drier nut than pine nuts.
I get asked this question a lot: what pasta do I use? My favourite brand is Green Olive Organics, which I buy from health food stores. I like the quinoa and amaranth blend, but they’re all really good, and hold up well to cooking. If I can’t get to the health food store, I buy Barilla spaghetti. Just keep an eye on it while it’s cooking, and cook it in a wok so you don’t have to bend the pieces. I find gluten free pasta breaks a lot easier than regular pasta, which isn’t a huge surprise.
FODMAP friendly pesto pasta
For the pesto:
- 1 large bunch of basil
- 1/2 cup 60g hemp seeds
- 1/2 cup 65g pine nuts
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt flakes sounds like a lot, but it’s necessary to replace the salt from the Parmesan
- Freshly cracked pepper to taste
- 1 300 g packet gluten free pasta I used Green Olive Organics 3 grain gluten free spaghetti
- 1 large bunch of English spinach thoroughly washed
- 1 bunch of broccolini
- Whichever extra greens and garnishes you prefer
- Place a large skillet or wok over a high heat, filled with enough water to cook the pasta, but not too much more. We want to condense the starchy water to use later. Salt very well, and add the pasta when ready. Shuffle it around regularly and keep an eye on it – overcooked gluten free pasta is a nightmare.
- While the pasta is cooking, place all the ingredients for the pesto in a blender, and blend until smooth. Adjust for seasoning if necessary.
- Once the pasta is cooked al dente (with a bit of bite to it) remove it from the water. Transfer the water into a bowl, where you can control how much you add back to the skillet.
- Add about a cup of starchy water to the skillet, followed by the broccolini. Cook until blanched, or as you prefer it. Add the spinach (and any other greens you’re using) and continue to cook until done to your liking. If at any time you need it, add more pasta water.
- Turn the heat off, and add the pesto the skillet. Toss to combine and loosen the pesto with the pasta water. Add the pasta and toss gently to coat (gluten free is v fragile!) Add more pasta water if you want a thinner sauce.
- Serve with some extra greens, extra basil, or some toasted pepitas.