Back to Basics: Creamy avocado basil sauce

Sauces can transform even the simplest of dishes such as chicken and vegetables or pasta into something quite extraordinary that you are excited to eat. This creamy avocado basil sauce is the next instalment in my ‘Back to Basics’ series as it’s a sauce that can be easily made and stored to enhance almost any dish.

Vibrant green ingredients

Four basic ingredients is all that is needed to create this delicious sauce: avocado, fresh basil, lemon juice and garlic.

Smoothy, creamy sauce

The avocado provides this sauce with a creamy texture and beautiful green colour. This fruit is also packed with heart healthy fats and fibre – so enjoy its health benefits by adding it to multiple dishes.

Full of good fats and flavour!

This sauce takes on a pesto like flavour due to the fresh basil and the lemon juice prevents the avocado turning brown. It also provides the sauce with a hint of zestiness.

Mixed through zucchini pasta

Enjoy this creamy sauce mixed through lightly cooked zucchini noodles or ‘zoodles’, gluten free pasta, served with chicken or salmon, or with vegetables crudités.

Creamy avocado basil sauce

Makes approximately 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor.
  2. Process for 3-5 minutes or until smooth.
  3. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Enjoy!

Notes: this sauce does not heat well so add it to a dish once cooked, not whilst its cooking.

Are there any particular ‘basic’ dishes you’d like to see in the ‘Back to Basics’ series?

Roasted vegetable quinoa salad with pesto

I cannot believe it has been a week since Melbourne Cup, as the year goes on time just seems fly by! To celebrate Melbourne Cup at work we all brought in a dish to enjoy for lunch whilst watching the race. I hope you backed a winner!

I made this roasted vegetable quinoa salad with pesto as it caters for almost all dietary requirements as it’s gluten free, vegan, dairy free and can be made nut free by swapping the pine nuts for pumpkin seeds in the pesto.

Basil pesto

My very first post was a quinoa salad (actually, very similar to this one) and remembered how delicious it was. It’s really the perfect dish as it feeds a lot of people, it’s very tasty and you can use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge.

I added lemon juice to the pesto as it lends a freshness to this otherwise heavier salad due to the roasted vegetables.

Salad ready to be served!

This salad will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

Roasted vegetable quinoa salad with pesto

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 4 cups vegetables (I used carrot, sweet potato, red and green capsicum, potato, pumpkin and zucchini), all thoroughly washed and diced*
  • Coconut oil
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves, washed
  • 2 cups basil, washed and dried
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 TBSP nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/8 cup macadamia oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Place vegetables onto baking paper and coat with just enough coconut oil.
  3. Roast for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool down.
  4. Place basil, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and garlic in the food processor. Process until everything is combined. Slowly add macadamia oil (you may not need 1/8 cup) and continue to process until it forms a paste. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Mix together the cooked quinoa, roasted vegetables and spinach leaves in a large mixing bowl.
  6. Fold through the pesto and mix until the quinoa and vegetables have all been coated. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • If you like to keep the skin on your vegetables (like me) ensure they are washed thoroughly to remove all the dirt
  • This is delicious when topped with hummus and sliced avocado!
  • I doubled the recipe for Melbourne Cup and it served 10 people easily
  • If you don’t use all the pesto, keep it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days!

What’s your favourite dish to bring to a friend’s party/work function?

Chia lemon water

Lately I’ve been drinking chia seeds with lemon and water throughout the day as a different way to up my daily water intake. Not only have I been drinking more water, but I have also noticed I haven’t had to snack as much. I think it’s my body’s way of saying I was only thirsty instead of hungry all along!

Chia seeds go in first..

Chia seeds are full of omega 3 and are high in antioxidants. When they come into contact with liquids they expand like there’s no tomorrow. That’s why I’ve only added 1 tablespoon of them as this will expand to around 1/2 cup!

Add a squeeze of lemon

The lemon juice adds a fresh flavour to your water and also has an alkalising effect to the body.

Hydrating, yet filling drink.

I usually sip on mine throughout the morning and I’ve found that I don’t need to have my usual morning tea snack – most of the time anyway!

Chia lemon water

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 TBSP chia seeds
  • 750mL water
  • 1/2 fresh lemon, juiced*

Method:

  • Add chia seeds to the bottom of glass jar/water bottle.
  • Add water and lemon juice then secure the lid.
  • Shake until all the chia seeds are loose. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • Add more water as you drink it if the chia seeds expand too much.
  • You could use fresh lime or orange juice instead of lemon too.
  • Make sure your glass jar/water bottle doesn’t have a straw as the chia seeds might get stuck in it!

I’d love to hear what you think of this drink!

Olive tapenade

When entertaining I always like to have some drinks and nibbles before the main meal. This allows guests to relax into the evening and to eat something as they’ve probably arrived with an empty stomach waiting to sample your delicious food!

The key is to keep the nibbles tasty, light and simple to prevent them from over-indulging before dinner. This olive tapenade is quite versatile making it a great addition to any platter.

All ingredients

This tapenade is very meaty in texture and is a little salty so it is advised to serve it with vegetable crudités and neutral crackers or corn chips.

Ready to be served

I used a mix of black and green olives as I wanted a contrast in colours. As you can see in the above photo there are little flecks of green amongst the kalamata olives.

Healthy platter

This tapenade will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to three days.

Olive tapenade

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pitted green and black olives, drained
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, washed
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and process for 2 minutes, or until well combined.
  2. Scoop into a bowl and serve with vegetable crudités and corn chips! Enjoy!

What do you like to serve for nibbles?