I know I’m jumping the gun a bit by sharing a pesto recipe when fresh basil isn’t quite in season, BUT the point of this recipe is: healthy food FAST.
While I’ll be the first to tell you that homemade is always best, there are times when homemade is not practical. Oftentimes the best intentions to eat healthy are thwarted thanks to actual life — from time restraints to all the random things that come up in daily life.
So, if eating healthier and getting your veggies in could use a shortcut, well I’m all for it.
So today we’re using store-bought pesto and it really makes this dish exceptionally easy. And while there is a bit of up front time chopping vegetables, you could even buy pre-chopped vegetables for one heck of a short prep time. Let’s get started!
How to make these Pesto Vegetables
- Roast the veggies:You want to cut the broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots all into bite size pieces. Here’s a guide to cutting and making roasted carrots. By cutting the carrots into thin diagonal cuts, they’ll roast at the same rate as the broccoli and cauliflower.
- Make the pesto couscous base:For these bowls we’re using original couscous which takes less than 10 minutes all in to make.
- Assembling your bowls: grab a bowl, fill it with the pesto couscous, and then load on the veggies and beans. Add some fresh avocado, another spoonful of pesto, and sprinkle some sliced honey roasted almonds on top. Snap an Instagram shot here
A few quick tips
- Picking out your vegetables: aim for getting the best/freshest vegetables you can. Here are a few tips for picking out the best broccoli and cauliflower:
- Check how firm the stem/stalk is; if it feels soft and weak steer clear of it.
- The closer together the florets of the broccoli or cauliflower, the better it is.
- Avoid stems with florets drooping away from the center.
- Avoid stems with yellow leaves around it.
- Getting fresh pesto: I highly recommend buying a fresh container of pesto at your nearest grocery store. My favorite brand of pesto is Buitoni’s basil pesto (not sponsored, just a fan!) The flavor is a thousand times better than a jarred pesto. Of course, you can always make your own too!
- The toppings: while optional, the honey roasted almonds and avocado add a lot! Not only do they make the dish more filling (healthy fats!), they also add a lot in ways of texture and flavor.
My top tip for roasting veggies
Use a LARGE sheet pan: the more space the vegetables have (aka the less crowded they are) the better they roast. When vegetables are overlapping or jammed into a sheet pan, they end up steaming instead of roasting which greatly affects the end taste/texture. I’ve started using this 15×21 inch sheet pan – which is practically the width of my oven. I can’t recommend the large sheet pan enough!
Bowl variation ideas
- Nuts: Instead of roasted almonds try chopped pistachios.
- Cheese: feta, goat cheese, or parmesan would work great in these pesto roasted veggie bowls.
- Add protein: grill some chicken (use this chicken marinade), slice it up, and add it to the bowls.
- Change up the veggies: replace the broccoli with roasted brussel sprouts, use sweet potatoes in place of carrots, or try roasting some cherry tomatoes with asparagus!
- Change up the beans: use the spice mix and directions in this chickpea salad for some perfectly roasted chickpeas you can add to these pesto vegetables.
Pesto Roasted Veggies
Perfectly roasted cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots atop a bed of easy (5-minute) pesto couscous. This easy vegetarian meal is packed with flavor, protein, and healthy fats.
- 1 head broccoli, cut into florets (~2 & 1/2 cups)
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets (~5 & 1/3 cups)
- 5 large carrots, peeled and sliced (~2 & 1/2 cups)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon EACH: garlic powder and paprika
- Fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
- 1 can (15 ounces) white beans (cannellini), drained and rinsed
- 1 cup original (not pearl) couscous
- 1 cup chicken OR veggie stock (can also use water)
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1/2 cup good quality Basil Pesto Sauce, store-bought or homemade (I recommend Buitoni’s fresh made (refrigerated) basil pesto for this recipe!)
- 2 large lemons, (3 tablespoons juice + additional wedges for serving), separated
- 1 large ripe avocado, thinly sliced or chopped
- 1/3 cup honey roasted almonds (I buy pre-roasted honey roasted almonds — the “ready made for salads”)
- VEGETABLES: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces (see pictures for general sizes)*. The broccoli and cauliflower should be cut into bite-sized florets and carrots sliced on the diagonal, each cut 1 inch apart from the last cut.
- Place all the veggies on a VERY LARGE sheet pan (use 2 sheet pans if the vegetables will overlap) and add olive oil, garlic powder, paprika, and salt + pepper (to taste) on top of the veggies. Using your hands, toss ingredients together and place in the oven. Roast for 10 minutes, remove and stir/flip around, and return to the oven for another 7-14 minutes or until crisp tender (timing will depend on the size of the vegetables and how roasted you like your veggies).
- Remove the veggie tray from the oven and add the drained and DRY white beans directly on to the tray, and toss together to warm the beans through. Add 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice and a bit more salt and pepper (I add about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, but add to personal preference) and toss again. Set aside.
- COUSCOUS: Meanwhile, add the chicken stock, veggie stock, or water to a small pot. Add in the butter and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat. Stir in the couscous and cover the pot with a lid. After about 5 minutes the liquid should be absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Stir in 1/4 cup pesto, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and about 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper (again to personal preference on salt and pepper).
- ASSEMBLY: Fill up 4 bowls with even amounts of the pesto couscous. On top add the roasted veggie and bean mixture. Add fresh avocado to each bowl and top with even amounts of the almonds. If desired add a wedge of lemon to each bowl. Spoon the remaining 1/4 cup pesto evenly over the bowls (obviously you can use more or less to taste preference :)) Enjoy immediately.
*If you’re worried about your carrots not being roasted enough to your preference, place on a different sheet pan from the broccoli + cauliflower.