as the warmer weather disappears, we begin to mourn the end of the basil season. i know that we’re supposed to appreciate each season for it’s diversity of produce, and the cooking combinations this provides, BUT i really love basil! i try and use it in everything – stir fries, pasta sauces, gnocchi, salads, sandwiches, and most of all, pesto!
i was taught to make pesto by my father, whom himself is famous within our extended family for the tasty pesto he produces every year for family gatherings. the best part of pesto is the brilliant simplicity of it! just good fresh ingredients which tantalise the taste-buds. quite a simple one to vegan-ise as well.
because the recipe already contains pine nuts, it’s got a natural creaminess that’s unaided by cows cheese. in the absence of parmesan cheese, a little extra garlic will give this pesto nice “bite”, and some nutritional yeast flakes add to the “cheesy-ness”.
i am guessing about quantities of liquids, so really have a play around and get a feel for the taste that you prefer. i’m a salt fiend, so i always go a little crazy with it and need to add a little extra tahini and lemon juice to balance it out.
garden fresh ingredients (thanks anya!):
- large bunch of fresh basil, rinsed
- one head of garlic
- good quality olive oil, as required
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- half a cup of pine nuts
- salt and black pepper to taste
- juice of a medium sized lemon
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes
- peel garlic and place in food processor. cover with olive oil and blend into a paste.
- add in all the basil leaves, a little more olive oil, and whizz again.
- place the tahini, lemon juice, pine nuts and nutritional yeast flakes into the mix, and blend until combined. it should look quite chunky, but thickly pourable. carefully add little bits of oil until you achieve the right consistency.
- add salt and pepper to taste.
- eat immediately, or transfer into an airtight container (jars are good for this) and refrigerate. if you plan to store it for a while, pour a very thin layer of oil over the top to help maintain freshness.
ways to serve:
- on hot pasta or gnocchi.
- as a pasta salad.
- on yummy crusty bread – as an entree, a snack or with other toppings (e.g. garlic mushrooms or baked beans)
- as part of an anti-pasto platter with grilled eggplant, olives, tofetta, etc