Peaches and Greens Pasta Salad w/ Bliss-Inducing Basil Tahini Sauce (Vegan, Gluten Free)
A farmers market stand, framed by potted flowering plants in lazy purple, is loaded down with big woven baskets of peaches. Dust kicks up around our car as we drive up. Salty air, sunshine, watermelons stacked high. I first met the woman who owns this stand when I was a kid. She's here today, ringing up my basil and green beans. She's grayer now than 15 years ago. Her farm stand has grown since then.
I eat a peach. I inhale some sunshine, feel the breeze on my skin. I'm thankful. Today was a good day. I say this often, but it's the simple things that seem to bring the most joy. It's easy to become distracted by perfect storm of life. The drama of the day to day draws us away from the inimitable now. From the pleasure in this moment. It keeps us from saying thanks for the very fact that we're here; that we live our lives as free agents amongst abundant food and beauty. We're lucky, to write food blogs, to read our books on our porches on rainy days, to buy mangos at the market.
So this pasta salad! Many of my meals simply consist of plenty of vegetables, brown rice pasta or a seed-grain like quinoa, some nuts & seeds, and a badass sauce. Sauce is where it's at. This pasta salad, for example, is a great way to get mo' delectable leafy greens into your diet in an easy, delicious way. You can use any greens you like, but chard is in season and flourishing in my garden right now. I've been harvesting it by the handful, so it was about time to throw it in amongst perfectly ripe, juicy peaches and a basil sauce that makes me want to clutch my chest and say be still my heart! It's love, y'all.
- Basil Tahini Sauce
- 1/2 cup packed basil (use up to 1 cup if you want to go heavy on the basil flavor!)
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon raw honey or maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- pinch cayenne
- 1/4 -1/2 cup water
- salt, to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon)
- Pasta Salad
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 4-6 large chard leaves, washed and chopped roughly (about 2 cups packed)
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon raw honey or maple syrup
- pinch cayenne
- salt, to taste
- 2 cups dry brown rice pasta (spirals are my preference) + water & salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3-4 ripe yellow fleshed peaches, washed, pitted and cut into wedges
- 1/4 cup almonds, toasted
- 1/8 cup cacao nibs
- fresh basil leaves, to garnish
- optional: handful wild wood sorrel or parslane, to garnish
- In a high powered blender, combine the basil, tahini, olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey/maple syrup, black pepper, cayenne, and 1/4 cup water. Blend on high until you have a smooth, creamy sauce.
- Add up to 1/4 cup more water (blending again to incorporate) until you get the thickness you like. Add salt, to taste. Set aside.
- Heat a cast iron pan or medium pan over medium high heat. Once the pan is nice and hot, add the olive oil, the chopped chard, the balsamic, honey, and cayenne. Cook, covered, for 8-10 minutes or until the chard is totally soft and wilted. Add salt, to taste. Remove from heat.
- While the chard is cooking, boil the pasta according to package instructions with a pinch of salt. Drain and run cold water over the pasta, rinsing the pasta thoroughly (this helps remove extra starch and keeps the pasta from becoming excessively sticky).
- Add your pasta to a medium bowl and drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over top, stirring the pasta once to spread the oil evenly throughout.
- Spoon out your cooked chard over the pasta (discard any leftover water or sauce left in the pan from the cooking process).
- Add the sliced peaches, toasted almonds, and cacao nibs and toss with the basil tahini sauce.
- Garnish with more basil, some wild wood sorrel or parslane, and serve warm or cold. Voila!