Avocado Cream Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Arugula (Vegan & Gluten-Free)
If you’re like me, then a grocery store is essentially your version of an amusement park. The fast track means you’ve somehow exercised enough restraint to pick up just 10 items or less and therefore you’re worthy of said checkout line, and the roller coaster adrenaline rush can really kick in anywhere (for me, it’s usually around the baking aisle (or maybe around the peanut butter. Or really any aisle? Honestly can we talk about those bulk bins though because they are majorly underrated, okay).
But also, if you’re like me, you may get a bit overeager at the grocery store and pick up a lot of things at one time with the intention of using them all swiftly throughout the week. But sometimes you really don’t feel like cooking that cauliflower you bought, or maybe picking up those tomatoes to make that homemade pico de gallo felt right at the time but is a tad too ambitious for your mood right now. I get it.
The other day I picked up an overzealous amount of avocados. Honestly, worse things have happened. But I will say, their overwhelming presence on my kitchen counter did give me the idea to make this summer pasta.
Let’s talk about the sauce first, because that’s where these avocados come into play. I used them to make an Avocado Cream Sauce, which is luscious and thick to say the least (there’s nothing worse than a watery sauce) but maintains a lot of brightness with the addition of fresh basil, lemon, and a bit of lemon zest. I did a simple seasoning of chili flakes, salt, pepper, and garlic. And to put it together? All you need is your blender.
This is probably one of my favorite pasta recipes I’ve developed, and if you’re familiar with my site, you know I have quite a few on here. But what I love about this dish the most is that the avocado cream sauce is light and refreshing, something you rarely find in cream sauces. It’s also extremely versatile – I like to use it on a tartine, as the base for a flatbread topped with arugula and roasted tomatoes, or even as a dip for crackers or chips. You can serve this pasta warm or chilled. I always garnish with cracked black pepper, maldon salt, and extra chili flakes. Take it a step further and drizzle with chili infused olive oil on top.
- ½ cup grape tomatoes
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
- 8 oz short pasta, such as rotini or penne
- 1 ½ ripe avocados
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves
- 3 garlic cloves
- ½ cup fresh arugula
- Flaky sea salt for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Slice the grape tomatoes in half or keep them whole if you prefer. Place them cut side up on the lined baking sheet, and drizzle generously with olive oil. Season the tomatoes with kosher salt, black pepper, and the red pepper flakes, and toss to incorporate. Roast in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. We don’t want to fully roast them because that will dry them out and get rid of the juices! The tomatoes should be slightly shriveled and browned around the edges.
While the tomatoes are roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook until al dente according to the instructions on the package.
At the same, prepare your sauce. All you need is your blender or food processor! Toss in the avocado flesh, lemon juice, basil, garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil, ¼ cup water, kosher salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Blend and adjust the seasoning as needed: more lemon for brightness, more red pepper flakes for spice, and salt and black pepper if needed. If the sauce is too thick, feel free to add an extra splash or two of water to thin it to your desired consistency.
When the pasta is done, drain and transfer it to a large serving bowl, and mix in the avocado cream sauce. Reserving a few tomatoes, add the roasted tomatoes and the arugula to the pasta. Toss to combine. Top the pasta with the reserved tomatoes, a sprinkling of flaky sea salt, and some freshly ground pepper and red pepper flakes. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve chill