If you’ve never made pesto before, put it on the top of your “To Do” list pronto! It’s so ridiculously easy to make, freezes well and can be used in countless meals and snacks. Not just for the traditional pasta dinner, you can mix this with quinoa or roasted veggies, use as a topping for grilled meats, mix in soups or use as a dip with crackers and veggie sticks.
Basil is the main component in a traditional pesto and not only makes food taste unbelievably fresh, it is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A and magnesium which are great for the heart. Its oils contain a component called eugenol which is an enzyme-inhibitor that can help reduce inflammation in the body and can help provide relief for those with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis or IBS. Studies have also shown that basil contains natural anti-bacterial properties which can help boost the immune system and basil also contains flavonoids which are antioxidants that help preserve cells from damage by free radicals.
The traditional pesto has some combination of basil, garlic, parmesan, pine nuts and olive oil, but what’s really great is you can experiment with this basic combo to personalize it. I’ve swapped basil for other greens like arugula, spinach, dandelion leaves (pretty bitter, so be aware with this one) and kale…..usually because I’m worried about the greens going bad before I can use them, so making a batch of pesto and freezing it avoids having to waste food (which I admit, is a little OCD of mine).
For this recipe, I added organic sundried tomatoes and unlike the traditional version, I often make mine using walnuts or another nut, because pine nuts are darn expensive! If you’re a vegan and want a cheesy taste toss in a tablespoon of nutritional yeast.
Paying $5 for a tiny jar of pesto seems crazy when you can whip up a larger, fresher batch at home in far less time than it takes for you to go to the grocery store to pick it up!
Vegan Sundried Tomato and Basil Pesto
- large handful of basil leaves
- 1/2 cup walnuts (or pine nuts for a more traditional pesto)
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped (or 5-6 whole) organic sundried tomatoes
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and pepper to taste
Method (so incredibly easy that this seems unnecessary):
- Using a food processor, pulse together all of the above ingredients. To help with blending, add the nuts, garlic and olive oil at the bottom then the tomato and basil on top.
- Add more olive oil for a creamier consistency if desired.
- Enjoy with your favourite pasta or quinoa, as a topping for fish or chicken or as a dip or spread with crackers or veggie sticks.
- This freezes well so store in an air-tight glass container, or freeze first in an ice-cube tray and then transfer to another container for easier portioning. Enjoy the fresh taste of summer in the fall and winter months! 🙂
What’s your take on pesto? How do you use it or how do you modify the recipe to suit your tastes? Please share below!