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Windowsill herb pesto

Published: 6th Apr 2020

I once heard a chef on Radio 4 say that to make pesto you can use any green herb, any nuts and any cheese. The other guests on the culinary programme gasped in horror at such a controversial statement and I thought "This is the kind of happy-go-lucky attitude to cooking sauces I can get on board with!".

Since then I've quoted this chef all over the place, as if I know a thing or two about mediterranean cuisine (I don't). But nobody has ever seemed quite as excited by the idea as I do. Probably because nobody is as uninterested in following recipes and rules (or going out specifically to buy pinenuts) as I am. Here is a rule to be broken and I'm all for it.

A chopping board with vegan pesto ingredients

So, from a windowsill full of home grown basil here's my partly traditional, partly unconventional basil, walnut/hazelnut and no-cheese 'pesto'. I do like that it contains no animal products.

I used:

  • 1 1/2 cup of home grown basil (stalks and all)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup shelled walnuts and hazelnuts (ones in shells that I always buy at Christmas and they're still in the bowl by spring)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast instead of cheese (because I need to use it for something)
  • 1 tbsp grapefruit juice (because I didn't have any lemons)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp salt

I swizzed it all up in the nutri-bullet or you could use a proper food blender that was meant for this kind of job.

Vegan pesto made with home grown basil

OK, it's all well and good throwing caution to the wind like this, you might think. But is it actually palatable? Well, if I may toot my own flute for a second I'd say it was really good, nice and garlicky.

I've put the pesto in an ice cube tray and frozen it to make it last longer and this way it's usable in individual portions too.

Tell me your radical recipes!