Basil is amazing. I am so in love with basil in the summer I can hardly help myself from adding it to everything. Basil in every salad, basil on sandwiches, basil gently rubbed between my fingers just to smell every time I go outside on my deck… Ah! Well, enough with this summer reverie. It’s February and the days (while getting longer) are still short and dark and cold and we’ve just had two weeks of -20C without a break. I’m craving summer in a bad way!
This pesto is infinitely versatile- in the summer I use much more basil than other greens, but in the winter good basil is hard to find and pricy! Tonight when I made it, I used about 15g of basil and 15g of parsley(a small handful of each)- the rest was spicy arugula, so I omitted the pepper.
While I’ve historically always used cheese, I decided to give nutritional yeast a try for this recipe. I probably could have thinned it out a BIT more, but it actually emulsified easier than the cheese version, was smoother, and as a bit of a shock to both myself and my taste tester, was the preferred version!
Time: under 10 minutes
Makes: about 1/2- 3/4 of a cup
You will need:
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil or other oil of your choice (I used sunflower oil)
- 1-2 cloves garlic, outer skin removed
- 1 ½ cup(lightly packed down) fresh herbs such as basil, parsley or greens such as spinach, kale or arugula
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese
- 1/4 tsp salt – to taste
- pepper – to taste
In a food processor or using an immersion blender(I usually use my immersion blender as this is a relatively small batch and I have a large food processor), combine the herbs/greens and garlic and process for 15 seconds.
With the food processor still running, add the oil SLOWLY until the mixture is smooth – you want it to emulsify. The mixture should look almost matte, and not oily. If your pesto looks oily you rushed the emulsification process and added too much oil at once. You are looking for the mixture to be loose, not chunky but not watery or runny at all.
Add the nutritional yeast or cheese and process for ten seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
You can see in the picture that I did a better job of emulsifying the one version on the left than the one on the right today. I’m going to blame using a different container than I usually use!
Toss with warm pasta, put on pizza, spread on a pork tenderloin or chicken… pesto is delightfully easy to use! This will stay good in the fridge for about a week.