My lovely friend Bianca, who passed me the Skinny Bitch book in the first place and nudged me toward veganism, lives far away in the city of Paris (the one in France, not Parys). She comes from an Italian-Afrikaans family and has a mother that cooks the most incredible food, and a father who enjoys her food as much as my father enjoys my mother's cooking. Everyone else also enjoys her mom's food a little bit too much when its in front of them! So I'm so flattered that it's my basil pesto recipe that she asked for...
I gave it to her over Skype last night but thought that perhaps it was time I share the magic between Ryan and I tonight, and perhaps with the rest of you! Vegan basil pesto is phenomenal. So you don't get the stringy cheese bits, but this actually tastes better than any other basil pestos I've ever tasted.
There are lots of variations that you can exercise with this recipe. Always make the basic pesto, and add lots of different stuff like roast cherry tomatoes - those things are magical, fresh cherry tomatoes or add soya cream and facon (or fake ham).
Pesto is also not limited to normal pastas by any means, pesto gnocchi is a favourite (perhaps you can even work the pesto into the gnocchi dough if you're making fresh) pesto risotto is phenomenal, pesto salad dressing, pesto lasagne, pesto jacket potatoes...
So here is the recipe and it makes tons!
Best Vegan Basil Pesto
150 g fresh basil washed and chopped
100 g blanched almonds/raw cashew nuts
Tbsp Pine nuts
Salt and Pepper to taste - I'm pretty liberal with both
Garlic to taste
1/4 Cup Olive oil
3/4 Cup Canola Oil (approx)
1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
A food processor/hand held blender/mortar and pestel
Pan for frying/roasting
Chop up the washed fresh basil leaves - include any that have gone black or wilted, they'll still taste great. Put half the leaves in the blender and pour in the olive oil.
Attempt to blend. A hand held blender or a mortar and pestel work wonders with this because with my food processor, it can be a nightmare trying to get it to chop up the leaves. It needs a lot of oil as encouragement.
If you have the same problem I do, don't worry too much about the leaves that won't blend, start dry toasting the nuts in your pan and ensure that you DO NOT BURN THEM. Only toast until golden, if they're starting to look brown toss them out of the pan immediately! Placing these nuts on top of the stuff in your blender is a great way to get some weight on top of the leaves and get the blender chopping.
Fry the roughly chopped garlic a little and add it to the mixture. Season. Blend.
You will notice that the mixture becomes increasingly difficult to blend so keep adding little bits of oil to lubricate the process.
Please don't add all that canola oil at once! Blend until its the consistency that you wish for - I like mine really choppy with whole nuts all over the place.
After my hand blender moved on I have been relegated back to my processor and it over does it a little so this particular batch of pesto photographed is super smooth.
You will now have the most delicious pesto ever so don't over cook your pasta! Heehee! Enjoy!