Linguine with Avocado and Arugula Pesto

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Well, it’s a miracle that I haven’t had a heat stroke yet. It is still at least 105°F outside every. single. day. I mean it’s only been two months of torture. But I promise I won’t groan about the weather today.  Besides,  I am hopping on a plane to Knoxville, Tennessee, where it is a balmy 89°F. I bet the grass is green there, the bushes full, and the flowers abloom. I can’t even wait! Plus, my BFF since the beginning of time just had a baby boy who I can’t wait to coo at all weekend long!

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But before I jet set across the country, I couldn’t leave without sharing one of the most unexpectedly delicious uses of avocado that I have ever tasted. In full disclosure, I have not been terribly creative with my fave fruit. Sure, I’ll slather it on toast for the perfect afternoon snack. Or load a heaping scoopful on tortilla chips as my favorite dip. I add it to salads and sandwiches and grill it, too. But I have yet to use it to coat noodles. And you know how much I love my pasta.

Linguine with Avocado + Arugula Pesto | Plum Pie

Let me step back a bit. I guess you could say that I have a small obsession with Food Network. I watch it constantly. And when I’m not really watching it, I usually have it on in the background. Except when the cupcake battle show comes on; I have no interest in that. I give credit to Food Network for teaching me so many cooking techniques, like salting pasta water, chopping onions, or browning meat. So naturally Saturday morning is my favorite. All of my shows and favorite chefs back to back all morning long. Ina, Giada, Bobby, Anne, and this weekend, the Pioneer Woman—we love spending Saturdays together.

Linguine with Avocado + Arugula Pesto | Plum Pie

When I saw Giada making California style Italian food a few Saturdays ago, I was most intrigued by this linguine with avocado and arugula pesto. I love all the ingredients. Arugula? check. Avocado? Double check. Parm? Should be its own food group in my opinion. And pasta? For reals, this sounded good. And best of all, it required minimal cooking. I turned on the stove to cook the pasta for a mere 15 minutes! And since I can’t follow recipes, I added in a few veggies (grilled asparagus and cherry tomatoes) and my spice of choice (red pepper flakes, of course).

Linguine with Avocado + Arugula Pesto | Plum Pie

When we sat down to eat dinner, I didn’t dare tell Andrew the H what was in the pasta sauce. And after a few bites, he declared, “Wow. This is some of the best pasta you have made in awhile.” What a sweetie. Then I reminded him that he says that every time. This is definitely different, but the avocado flavor is mellow, and the pesto is thick and delicious. So if you are looking to be a little daring and want something comforting for summer, try this recipe!

Linguine with Avocado + Arugula Pesto | Plum Pie

Note: Arugula can be peppery so if it isn’t something that you love, then make the pesto with half spinach, half arugula or even all spinach. A bit of cilantro could be good in this, too (just a bit since it can be strong). I loved the addition of grilled asparagus but could easily leave the cherry tomatoes out next time. I also loved the fact that the avocado served as the “fat” in the pesto. It is so much better for you than the traditional oil! Also, don’t forget to save some of the pasta water to loosen the sauce!

Linguine with Avocado + Arugula Pesto | Plum Pie

Linguine with Avocado and Arugula Pesto
Adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis

{Serves 4 to 6}

1 pound linguine pasta
2 small to medium Haas avocados, halved, peeled, and seeded (about 12 ounces total)
3 cups baby arugula OR spinach leaves (3 ounces)
1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 1-2 large limes)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan (4 ounces)
1 bunch asparagus
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted*

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions or until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water. Place in a serving bowl.

While pasta is cooking, prepare the pesto. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh from the avocados and place in a food processor. Add the arugula, basil, lime juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth. Add parmesan cheese and pulse to blend.

Grill the asparagus on a grill or grill pan (alternatively, you can roast the asparagus for 10 minutes at 375°F). You want to asparagus to be cooked but still firm to the bite. Remove asparagus and let cool. Chop into bite size pieces.

Pour the pesto over the pasta and toss together. Add the asparagus and cherry tomatoes and toss together until coated, adding the pasta water, as needed, to loosen the sauce. Top with toasted almonds if you would like.

*To toast the almonds, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 6 to 8 minutes until lightly toasted. Cool completely before using.

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