My basil plants have been abundant this season! I planted three types in my hydroponic garden, sweet Italian, lemon and Thai. Only one seed of each and they just took off in the hydroponics. Then I scattered a couple more seeds around my tomatoes in hopes it would help deter the dreaded tomato worm (which didn’t appear to work), but oh, my, I have a LOT of basil.
I’ve already created a Thai Basil Pesto and the recipe is on the site. If you haven’t tried it, it is oh so good, sweet and spicy, the little packets of green goodness are frozen and we’ll enjoy them throughout winter, but today it was sweet Italian basil that needed my attention.
In keeping with my goals of a more plant-based diet, I eliminated the parmesan cheese and used nutritional yeast in its place. For those of you not familiar with this product, I find it in flake form at Whole Foods and Sprouts markets in the bulk section. It’s a mainstay for Vegans to obtain that cheesy aroma. It’s actually a yeast that has been deactivated (it won’t make things rise or ferment) and it smells cheesy. Also, to be careful of my budget I didn’t use pine nuts which run at least $15.00 a pound around here. So with all my substitutions I have to say that I came up with a right tasty pesto, Scott who announced he had pasta at lunch had three bowls, I call that a success!
Basil and Walnut Pesto – by Debra Crawford
- 5 Cloves Fresh Garlic
- 1/2 Cup Toasted Walnuts
- Juice of One Small Lemon
- Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
- 5 Cups Fresh, Rinsed Sweet Italian Basil
- 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
- 1 Tsp Salt
- 1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
- Freshly Ground Pepper to Taste
In a frying pan toast the walnuts flipping a few times until you can smell the oils and see the walnuts are toasting. Set aside. In your food processor, drop the whole garlic cloves down the chute with the motor running so they mince. Turn off processor and add the walnuts, process until finely ground. Add the remaining ingredients and process until nearly smooth. I like a little texture in mine. Mix thoroughly in warm pasta, or freeze in containers for a quick dinner solution.
I topped my pesto with some fresh-picked tomatoes, a minced clove of garlic, a little balsamic and more snipped basil. I love the bite of the fresh tomato and vinegar with the rich pesto. Delicious!