I made this pesto a couple of weeks ago when I was still in OC staying with relatives. The basil in the garden had been growing like crazy in the sunny warmth of the early summer days. The pesto came out so good I had to make it again two days later. On both occasions we had guests over and they all loved it so much.
This is a vegan version of the traditional basil pesto the old Italian grannies make. Pesto comes from the region of Liguria, in the north-west of Italy. Lets say that each region has a traditional pasta dish they are mostly fond of (maybe more like 20!). Liguria is famous for its “Trofie al Pesto Genovese” which is a short and twisted type of pasta served with basil pesto AND green beans and new potatoes. The addition of the seasonal green beans and potatoes makes it a nutritious, healthy and very tasty dish. Perfect for a crowd, this dish will satisfy even the little one’s palate on a summer evening dinner.
You can make this pesto using only green basil, but play around with what you have in your garden or other greens/herbs you have on hand. The first time I made it I used some green and some purple basil and some arugula which gave it an extra kick. It was delicious.
As always, I emphasise on the sourcing. Of course, picking an ingredient straight from your backyard is the best way one can do it. You know exactly what when in the growing process. Seeing something grow from seed/seedling to fruit is gratifying and educational. But that is a luxury very few of us have (even though SO many people have taken up gardening through the lockdown, that is just incredible). There are options! More and more farms, start ups and other businesses focus on local, seasonal food sourcing. You can go to farmers markets or order from CSAs, for example, and you can rest assured that you’ve spent your money well. You’ve invested in your health, in the local community and economy, and you’ve voted against the industrial food system.
Now for the recipe, here is a basic recipe which can be tweaked based on your preferred consistency and taste.
1 big bunch of basil
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup pine nuts + more to serve
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (more if needed)
salt & pepper
Wash and pick your basil leaves. Pat them dry with a tea towel.
In a food processor put all of your ingredients except for the oil. Turn it on and stream in the oil while blending. If you think it needs more oil to help it blend and become creamy add more.
Use right away or keep in a jar, cover with some oil to avoid browning and keep in the fridge up to 2 weeks.
For the pasta: bring a big pot of water to boil. Salt it and add your pasta of choice. 10 minutes before draining it, add some green beans and small potatoes (I like to chop them slightly, but you want to make them all roughly the same size so they cook evenly). Drain everything while keeping a cup of boiling water on the side. Mix in some spoons of pesto and cooking water to help combine. Serve with some toasted pine nuts and basil leaves.