Only my second recipe post since my return from Italy and guess what? Another Italian recipe. I didn’t really plan it like that, but you can’t really say it’s a coincidence. Not that making Italian recipes is something out of the ordinary for me.
(sigh) Italian food. Love it. Do you? What’s your favourite Italian dish?
Classic Italian basil pesto is made with parmesan cheese, but pesto can still be delicious without the cheese. Simply omit it. The combination of fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and salt is a wonderful one that doesn’t disappoint.
If you have never tried making your own pesto at home before, let this summer be your first. If you grow your own basil, awesome, but if not, head over to the market and pick up a big bag of local basil. Don’t forget to stick your nose in it. Magic!
While you are there, see if you can pick up some fresh local garlic. It truly is wonderful. It was my first time buying fresh garlic. I look forward to the day when I can grow my own.
Pesto can be made with all types of different herbs and nuts. While I love experimenting with different combinations, I love a classic basil pine nut combo. Puts a smile on my face every time.
Vegan Basil Pesto
Makes enough pesto for 2 servings of pasta – double or triple recipe if necessary
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 loosely packed cups fresh basil
1/2 – 1 clove of garlic, depending on size of clove and taste
a few pinches of sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black
extra virgin olive oil as needed
optional: sometimes I add a little lemon juice to my vegan pesto
You can either use a mortar and pestle or a food processor to make fresh pesto. When making a small amount like the recipe proportions presented above, I suggest using a mortar and pestle, because the blades of the food processor are likely to spin over the basil.
I also prefer making it with a mortar and pestle, because it makes it a soulful experience. Be sure to take your time and enjoy the process. However, if you want to make a lot of pesto in a hurry, you may be better off making it with a food processor.
1. Start by warming up the pine nuts in a pan or the oven for a minute. Just enough to warm them up but not brown them. This will help bring out their wonderful flavour.
2. Then add the pine nuts to the mortar and mash with the pestle. Set the smashed pine nuts aside.
3. Add the garlic and a pinch of salt to the mortar and smash.
4. Now add the basil. You may want to add a little bit at at time, depending on the size of your mortar and pestle. Pound it well. It will start to release fragrant oils. Keep going until it is all done.
4. Add the pine nuts back to the mix and pound some more, slowly drizzling in the olive oil until you reach the desired consistency. A smooth paste.
5. Season with salt and pepper. You can always add more garlic if you really want.
For Serving – Pesto with Pasta
Serve with pasta of your choice, whether it be fresh, whole-grain or gluten free. Cook the pasta, drain, return to the pot and mix in the pesto while the pasta is still hot.
Try roasting another 1/4 cup of pine nuts and serving it with the pasta. If you have any baby basil leaves use them as garnish.
Taste and season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Of course, you can always use the pesto for something else, it doesn’t have to be pasta.
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