Today, I went to the farmer’s market with only one goal in mind. Pesto. Some things in life are perfect without ever trying, like basil, which exists in my mind solely to make pesto. Traditional Italian pesto is made using parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil. I like keeping things vegan, however, so I tweaked things bit and came up with this recipe that revisits my kitchen summer after summer.
Basil isn’t just a pretty face. This fragrant green herb packs a knockout nutritional punch, with substantial amounts of Vitamin K, Vitamin A, magnesium, and calcium. A strong anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory agent, basil’s flavonoids also offer DNA protection against radiation¹.
My one and only experience with making pesto using pine nuts wasn’t great. They tasted chalky, bitter, and unpleasant. For $12.99/100g, I wasn’t buying it, so I made the switch to walnuts. Walnuts are an awesome source of monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, which makes these nuts great for the brain and heart².
Adding a kick of lemon makes this pesto slightly more full of sunshine, and combines nicely with the garlic. Lemons are high in Vitamin C, which neutralizes free radicals in the body, and possess natural anti-biotic and anti-inflammatory characteristics³. As they say, when life gives you lemons, make pesto. We also just happen to have a Meyer lemon tree thriving on our city balcony.
After whipping up the pesto, I paired it with some apricot, walnut, & raisin bread from A Bread Affair. Pesto dreams achieved. So, without further ado, the recipe –
1/2 lb basil, washed
3/4 cup extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oil
3/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup vegan cheese, like Daiya
3 to 4 cloves garlic
Juice of two lemon
Sprinkle of Himalayan sea salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1. Throw the washed basil into a high-speed blender or trusty food processor. I used a Vita-Mix. Add olive oil and walnuts. Blend until smooth, pausing to scrape down sides if needed.
2. Add vegan cheese, lemon, salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast. Blend until completely smooth and drop-dead delicious.
¹ “The World’s Healthiest Foods: Basil”, whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=85
² “The World’s Healthiest Foods: Walnuts”, whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=99
³ “The World’s Healthiest Foods: Lemon/Limes”, whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=27