Oct 14, 2013
Pesto. Vegan and Oil-free.
Strangely, even with my Italian grandmother in the kitchen, we didn’t have pesto much in my house while I was growing up. Lots of tomato sauce, garlic and olive oil, even some unusual but delicious sauce that Mom and Grandma used to make for pasta that was made from freshly grated horseradish… but not a lot of pesto.
The first time I recall really noticing this magical, green sauce was when I ate lunch at a little vegetarian restaurant in Greenwich Village (one of the first of its kind in the early 80s). The bright green pesto was tossed with spinach fettucini. Green on green. I was instantly smitten. Of course, it contained LOTS of the two usual
suspects ingredients in traditional pesto: olive oil and parmesan cheese. But I’ve been a big fan of that flavor ever since…
Enter oil-free, dairy-free pesto. Every bit as flavorful and satisfying for sure. In this recipe I used a TON of basil. Keep in mind you can always use spinach and basil, half and half, if you’d rather not buy out the store of all its basil. I happen to have a ginormous basil plant in my garden and it’s rapidly approaching do-or-die-harvest time. Literally. The freezing temps are just around the corner. So I figured I’d better start making use of that happy herb. I swear, he is the happiest plant in the garden. Literally three feet wide and just flourishing away.
One of the great things about pesto is that you can make a bunch and freeze it for future use. So go for it…
- 4 cups tightly-packed basil leaves (or substitute 2 of the cups with baby spinach)
- 2 cups raw walnuts
- 8 cloves garlic (yes you read that right, EIGHT)
- juice of one lemon (about 2 TBS)
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 cup water
- Pulse the walnuts and garlic in a food processor until the walnuts are finely chopped, but not mushy.
- Place in a medium sized mixing bowl and mix in the nutritional yeast.
- Pulse the basil in the food processor with the lemon juice until finely chopped.
- Add to the walnut mixture and stir well to combine.
- Add the water and stir to combine.
- Serve over pasta of your choice.