My favourite go-to sauce is without a doubt pesto. With its zingy garlicky taste, vibrant colour and heady basil scent it screams of the warmth of summer for me. The way it lovingly clings to pasta providing for me an Italian hug in a bowl.
When I went from being a vegetarian to a vegan I wondered if the pesto I loved so much would be just as good without my usual parmesan. I am so pleased to say that it was and the conversion was so simple. You get the wonderful pesto taste just by substituting the parmesan cheese for nutritional yeast flakes or by using vegan parmesan style cheese, either of these work well. For me, I see no reason why this punchy little sauce should be used just for pasta alone and I am finding new ways to use it all the time. It just seems to bring all manner of food alive. Boiled new salad potatoes tossed in a spoonful of pesto is gorgeous as is a teaspoonful added to potato salad dressing or a basic white sauce. It also makes a great marinade for tofu and roasted vegetables. One of my favourite ways to use it is to spread a little on a bun before toasting and placing onto the burger or spreading some pesto with a little butter onto a burger bun then placing face down onto a bbq for a few minutes. It even works well to use in garlic bread.
This is a take on a classic pesto but it can be played around with by using different nuts or even substituting the pinenuts for a nut-free version with sunflower seeds.
It really is so quick and simple to make your own and most definitely worth it. For a different take on this sauce sun-dried tomato and roasted red pepper pesto are also gorgeous and I will include a recipe for both of those.
- 40g or 2 cups of fresh basil large stems removed
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast or vegan style parmesan
- 3 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
- 3-4 Tbsp water (more if needed)
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice plus 1 tsp lemon zest
- 3 Tbsp Pine nuts, walnuts or sunflower seeds
- Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
- Into a small blender or a food processor add the garlic, nuts, lemon zest and juice and nutritional yeast or vegan cheese alternative.
- Blend on high until you have a thick paste.
- Add the olive oil and a little salt and blend, scrape down the sides of your processor as you go. Next, add the water a little at the time until you have reached the desired consistency, you are aiming for a thick sauce. Here it depends on your preference some like theirs thicker and others thinner.
Taste and see if it needs adjusting either in seasoning or if it needs a bit more cheesy flavour.
Store in the fridge for a week or why not freeze into ice-cube moulds in easy portions, these freeze for 2 months and saves any waste. No need to defrost.