Eat Local Recipe Series: Vegan Pesto
Welcome to our Eat Local Recipe Series where a very not-professional cook creates and tries recipes made with ingredients directly from the Eat Local Grey Bruce Online Store! Our hope is that this series may inspire you to try something new and to get creative in the kitchen with fresh, seasonal ingredients grown and prepared by our local farmers and producer-members.
Simple Pesto Recipe (Vegan!)
Pesto is an incredible condiment! So versatile and fresh tasting, it’s perfect for spicing up summer dishes. Try this pesto spread on a toasted slice of Caraway Rye Sourdough from Aster Lane Bread with some Sheep Cream Cheese from All Sorts Acres Farm. It makes a great veggie dip as is or mixed with yogurt from Saugeen Country Dairy – grab some carrots from Bruce Huron Produce Auction, mixed cherry tomatoes from Burdock Grove or some snow peas from Twin Creeks and dip away! For a bigger meal, stir into any pasta from the Ontario Natural Food Coop (ONFC) and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese or keep it vegan with Plant Parm from The Frauxmagerie (tip: reserve some of your salted pasta cooking water to mix with pesto before stirring into pasta for extra sauciness).
All of the below amounts are only approximate and are suggestions. This recipe can be totally improvised based on your own taste and preferences. I usually don’t measure when making this – it’s as easy as hucking things into your blender or food processor, giving it a taste and adding a little more citrus, salt or herbs – whatever suits your fancy! This recipe makes about a 500mL mason jar of pesto but yield could be different based on what you choose to substitute.
You’ll need (approximately!):
1 cup sunflower seeds from ONFC or A&E (walnuts and almonds also work great in this recipe!)
2-3 cloves new garlic from Sideroad Farm or Stewart’s Fresh Produce
1 cup garlic scapes from Lena Landei (optional! If you don’t have scapes, just add another clove of garlic or an extra handful of herbs)
3 cups carrot tops (I happened to have carrot greens on hand but spinach, mizuna, arugula or just more herbs will work wonderfully!)
1 cup fresh basil (or try mint, dill, parsley – any leafy herb will do! For herbs and greens (above) check out Persephone Market Garden, Burdock Grove, New Life Farm, Stoeckli Organics and others on the online store)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast from ONFC
1 lemon, zest and juice from Pfennings Organic Vegetables
½ cup olive oil or sunflower oil from Rallis Olive Oil or Huron Sun
Generous pinch of Himalaya pink salt from A&E
Pepper to taste
Toast the sunflower seeds in a pan on your stovetop over medium heat, giving them a gentle stir every now and again– keep an eye on them as they toast quickly! I find this step enhances their flavour and gives them a lovely, soft texture for pesto.
If using garlic scapes, I like to also chop and sauté those in a pan with touch of oil to soften them a little. Add garlic, scapes, and sunflower seeds to your food processor and pulse until a still-coarse paste begins to form.
Add chopped greens, herbs, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and zest, olive oil and salt & pepper to food processor. Pulse again until combined, scraping down the sides if needed.
And that’s it! At this point your pesto may still be warm (it’s a great time to snack on some!) – let cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight container in the fridge where it will keep for several days. Note that the colour may deepen a little and some herbs may brown over time – this is totally normal and it will still taste amazing! If you’re planning to freeze your pesto, you can blanch the greens and/or herbs to help them retain their vibrant green colour through the freezing and thawing process. I usually skip this step because I eat the pesto too quickly to worry about storing it for very long!
Check out our many awesome producers here and let us know if you try it out!