Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Review: Sauces n' Love Vegan Pesto

Pesto Pasta Party, Vegan Style

Sauces n' Love Pesto, available at Boston-area Whole Foods Markets, $7

The craving:

For us vegans, years can pass between our opportunities to indulge in an authentic pesto-drenched pasta dish. Years, that is, of sorrow and privation. Cheese-free pesto is hardly a staple at most grocers, and for some (unjust, insane) reason, this summer staple seems relegated to second class status at many veggie-centric eateries.
Recipe options abound with Sauces n' Love
versatile vegan pesto.

With traditional pesto recipes calling for Parmesan or Romano cheese, we’re often left standing over our food processors, basil bush in hand. And while there’s nothing better than a homemade batch of pulverized basil, pine nuts, garlic and EVOO, sometimes you just don’t have it in you. On a lazy Sunday night, pesto making just isn't in the cards.

Enter Sauces n’ Love vegan pesto, 4.5 jarred ounces of garden-fresh flavor.

The solution:

Versatility is part of pesto’s many appeals. Toss it over capellini, fettuccine, fusilli – whatever you have on hand – and raid the fridge for forgotten produce. My asparagus and cherry tomatoes were a few days shy of giving up on life, so before I cracked open my inaugural jar of Sauces n’ Love pesto, I set a handful of asparagus spears into salted, boiling water. As the asparagus cooked, I pan-fried some Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips. Quick, healthy and novice-proof. Anyone with two pots and a frying pan can cook this meal.

Before tossing it all together, I mixed a heaping spoonful of pesto with 3 tablespoons water and a small slice of softened Earth Balance. This concoction covered about three large servings of fettuccine, which is a huge plus for those of us who live and die by leftovers. To top it off, I incorporated the chicken and asparagus, saving the halved cherry tomatoes (or quartered, go crazy) to complete each individual serving.

This simple fettuccine dish is highly adaptable. Dig into your
produce bin - it's hard to go wrong!
Damn, that was easy.

The verdict:

The verdict, the verdict…not necessarily the place to say “it depends.” But here’s the deal: if you want your meal infused with unobtrusive basil-y notes, Sauces n’ Love pesto is your jam. Fresh and aromatic, this product yields a delightful bowlful of quintessentially summer flavor.

And yet.

If you’re looking for a more extreme pesto experience – a mouthful so commanding you couldn't care less about the itty-bitty basil flecks bespeckling your smile – Sauces n’ Love may fall short. Deferential where it ought to be aggressive, this is a pesto built for those falling center-right on the flavor-seeker continuum. If this isn't you, here’s what to do: simply mix a supplementary scoop (or two…) into your dish. 

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