Sunday, February 13, 2011

Back to Basics: Pesto

I realized today that I have been utterly neglectful of one important dish in my vegan repertoire: pesto! I’ve mentioned it many times before, and it’s long been one of my very favorite foods, but I’ve yet to talk specifically about a vegan pesto.

Pesto is a very simple Italian sauce, made of basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and parmesan. My experience over the past year has shown me that removing the dairy from foods actually heightens the flavors. So, omitting the cheese from pesto actually amplifies the herbaceous basil, the fruity olive oil, and the salt and warmth of the pine nuts, leaving only a smooth, rich sauce for pasta, crostini, and more.

Preparing the pesto is the first step in my wintry vegan lasagna, but it’s also a great staple. I like to make a large batch, and freeze it, so I always have a kicking condiment for my salad pizza, or my fettuccine with pesto and cranberry beans. One of my favorite weeknight dinners is spaghetti with pesto, green beans, and cherry tomatoes. Spend a few minutes one afternoon to make a sauce that will carry you through so many meals.

Basil Pesto

4 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Combine the garlic and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until chopped roughly. Add the basil leaves, and pulse until chopped finely, but not mushy. With the processor on, slowly add the olive oil until it reaches a smooth consistency. Add more olive oil if you would like the sauce thinner. Add the lemon juice and pulse to combine. Use immediately, or freeze for up to 6 months.

1 comment:

  1. My friends I visited over the summer made me vegan pesto for dinner. They used 'Natural Yeast'. It tasted a lot like cheese!! Have you tried it that way? Would you recommend it?