I love basil--and pesto. I literally cannot live without either of these culinary miracles, especially in the summer when the basil is plentiful and it is so easy to whip up a batch of this flavor enhancing sauce. I like to make a big batch of it and freeze it in little ice cube trays. When I need a little something extra for pizza, salad dressing, or pasta sauce, I just pop out one of these frozen pesto cubes and--wala!--my evening meal is elevated to summery deliciousness. This pesto is also great for making your own Seussian "green eggs" (ham optional).
Usually, when It comes to making pesto, I just use what I have on hand in terms of nuts (almost always sunflower seeds) and cheese. Lately, I have been l loving swapping out the traditional Parmesan cheese for nutritional yeast in my recipe. This yeast is actually deactivated yeast that has a cheesy, nutty flavor and is often used as a cheese substitute in vegan dishes. It can be found in most health food stores. It is delicious, low in calories, and so good for you because it is high in fiber, protein, and vitamin B-12. I also don't often put salt in my pesto, especially if I am going to freeze it because I want to make sure I don't over salt my dish if I am using pesto with other salty ingredients like prosciutto or mozzarella. So I refrain from adding salt until I know what I'm pairing it with. Let's just say I learned to tread lightly with the seasoning of my pesto after one too many salty dishes!
2 cups packed organic basil
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
Salt to taste (optional)
Add first three ingredients in a food processor until roughly chopped and blended. Then add oil and mix until combined. Finally, add in nutritional yeast (and salt if using) and combine. Transfer to bowl or mason jar. Store in fridge for 2-3 days or up to three months in freezer using ice cube trays. Enjoy!
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