Thursday, June 27, 2013

Homemade pesto - no cheese!

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Mmmm.. pesto! So tasty and so versatile: spread on bread, pasta 'sauce' etc etc. But since becoming vegetarian a lot of commercially available pestos are off the menu for me because usually there's Parmesan cheese in it. And Parmesan isn't vegetarian. Sorry to burst that particular bubble if this the first time you hear this. ;-)

But luckily pesto isn't difficult to make at all! You just need a few simple ingredients and (preferably) a blender.

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Pesto ingredients:
Pine nuts: 100 grams
Fresh basil - approximately 55 grams (but if you've got a bit more than that, just chuck it in, it's all good!)
Extra virgin olive oil - approx. 25ml (have a bit extra on hand to get the desired consistency)
2 cloves of garlic (1 if you don't want the garlic to be too powerful)
A good pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of nutritional yeast* (optional)

How to make the pesto:
Put all the ingredients in your blender (or use a pestle and mortar if you're old skool) and blitz until everything is thoroughly mixed and chopped together and of a uniform consistency. If you want your pesto to be more fluid, add a bit more olive oil and blitz again. And that is basically it.

But wait - taste the pesto before removing it from the blender. You might want to add a tiny bit more salt. Or you could add 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice for a bit of acidity. Or maybe a bit of black pepper? I'm a big fan of black pepper. :-)

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*Yeah, I know. Nutritional yeast, what on earth is that?! It's deactivated yeast that has a nutty/cheesy flavour and vegans and vegetarians often use it where a cheesy flavour is desired. I must say that I'm not completely sold on it, but some people looove it and swear by it. :-)

You can read more about nutritional yeast here.

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What can you eat pesto with? I love pesto on boiled, lightly salted, potatoes. So good! And of course you can mix it with pasta.

The other day I made this for dinner:
1 tin of cannellini beans, half a boiled potato (cubed), sautéed in a bit of oil with garlic powder and salt & pepper. Mix with cooked spaghetti and as much pesto as you fancy. Yum! (Yumyumyumyum!!) If you don't eat it all in one go, have the leftovers for lunch the next day! :-)

Buon appetito!


xo, Carina
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