Our garden is in full swing and the basil my husband planted is playing center stage right now. This herb makes one of my favorite, very versatile sauces…pesto.
We were in southern France a few years ago having one of those several hour dinners, which is the event for the evening over there (gosh, it’s wonderful), and I was served a fabulous country white bean soup that had a dollop of pesto floating in the center. I’d never thought to do that myself and since then we’ve used the perfect condiment spread over salmon, veggie patties and chicken, stirred into soups, folded into mashed potatoes and, the more common, tossed with warm pasta.
Traditionally it’s made with basil, garlic, cheese, pine nuts and olive oil but I do not add cheese when making my own at home. Recently I began substituting nutritional yeast for cheese in my pesto sauce. I also sprinkle nutritional yeast on salads, my popcorn, anything I want a cheesy flavor without cheese. In addition to its cheesy and nutty flavor, it’s high in protein, fiber and B vitamins; areas that can be lacking in a vegetarian/vegan diet.
¼ C pine nuts*
4 cloves garlic
3 C fresh basil leaves
5 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
½ C + 2 Tbsp olive oil**
Destem basil if using fresh from the garden. Roughly chop the garlic cloves. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a food processor or small food chopper (that’s what we use). Add the oil slowly.
*You can substitute walnuts for pine nuts. I’ve done this before and it tastes fine.
**You can add more olive oil to your taste. The more you add, the creamier and less intense the flavor will be.