Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thoughts on Creating a Vegan Basil Pesto

When I first started eating vegan I focused on foods and cuisines that were if not naturally vegan easily adaptable.  I had never been a big fan of "fake" meats and cheeses, preferring to just focus on the wide variety of plant-based foods that are out there.  But after a bit, the lure of these analogs combined with missing some familiar food forms lured me in.

Cheese is the big threshold for many who would consider a vegan diet and I have a lot more to say about that, but for now I wanted to focus on one particular dish that uses cheese - basil pesto.

I had just bought a fragrant bunch of basil and was trying to decide what to do with it when it hit me I wanted pesto. REALLY wanted pesto.  I had tried some herb pesto combinations without cheese and I hadn't been totally satisfied with them, they tasted flat or overly sharp and didn't have the taste and mouth feel I wanted.  Yesterday I had a revelation -- nutritional yeast.

It worked beautifully.  I'm sorry to say I didn't write down the proportions of what I did, but I will make it again and do so and share.  Here's what I combined:

Basil leaves
Garlic clove
Olive Oil
Pasta Cooking Water (or use hot water or veg stock)
Slivered, blanched almonds (I stay away from pine nuts now due to the cost and the issues of pine nut mouth)
Nutritional Yeast (powdered kind)

With everything whirled in the food processor to a nice consistency.

I served the pesto tossed with whole wheat pasta as part of a meal with steamed artichokes with homemade lemon hummus, green bean and cherry tomato vinaigrette salad,  onion and peppers saute with tofu cubes in red wine sauce, green salad and rustic bread.  It was just a dinner for my hubby, Gary, and me, but it was a feast.

photo credit:  MS Clip Art

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