That is, until I have three half-pound bags of basil in my refrigerator. Then, pesto seems a lot more appealing. Unfortunately, traditional pesto is kinda expensive to make (especially the pine nuts) and even when you make it with walnuts -- another common variation -- it's pretty expensive.
Then, you add in the cheese (or don't) -- and the cost of it (which, for high quality organic cheese, can be pretty steep). I don't like traditional pesto with parm -- the flavor of Parmesan is something I just never learned to enjoy. Plus, if I don't include it, then I can make vegan pesto, which makes me happy because I'm toying with the idea of being a household vegan -- not eating animal products at home, but not adding that to my already long-ish list of dietary needs if someone else is feeding me. If I go that route, I'd make that choice for environmental reasons -- and I'm undecided. There's a lot of processing that can go into a vegan diet (especially regarding dairy alternatives) and it might make more sense for me to just move more strictly to a "whole foods" diet so that I'm opting for as little processing of ingredients as possible.
So, for this pesto I use raw, unsalted sunflower seeds in place of pine nuts or walnuts, and nutritional yeast in place of parm. The result is pretty good. I like it with a crack of black pepper and if I were making it just for me, instead of sharing it, I'd up the amount of garlic to 3 large cloves. This recipe is fast and easy, and makes about 16 ounces of pesto -- plenty for several meals. Store it in a well-sealed container, in the refrigerator for several days.
Cheap Vegan Pesto
3 packed cups basil, rinsed and stems removed
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, raw and unsalted
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup sunflower or olive oil (you can use more, but then the pesto isn't as cheap!)
2 large cloves garlic
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
Combine all ingredients, except water, in a blender or food processor. Begin blending, slowly adding water (or more oil), until the pesto blends easily and remains at a thick consistency. Refrigerate, and serve over whatever you like! (I like it over quinoa and piled on tomatoes).
|Sunflower growing in a guerrilla garden|