Basil is one of my favourite summer herbs, not only for its bright green colour but also for its tiny, beautiful flowers, its fragrance, the flavor that adds to my dishes and also by the fact that I can always have fresh basil in my pots, especially during spring and summer. Unfortunately, when the weather gets colder, my beautiful basils start to wilt, but in spring, their seeds grow and new basils appear! So in the summer days, when basils are on their best, I like to pick their leaves and use them in several dishes. Today I decided to make a tasty pesto alla Genovese, using the traditional Italian recipe, replacing though parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast flakes.
Something that I like to do when I have plenty of basil leaves, is to prepare larger quantities of this pesto sauce and keep it in glass jars in the fridge for long time. By this way, we can have “fresh” pesto sauce all year long.
Pesto sauce is ideal for spaghetti, but we can also use it over toasted bread for a tasty bruschetta.
- 50 g or 2 cups of basil leaves
- 100 ml olive oil (slightly less than half a cup)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar or white vinegar or lemon juice
- ½ -1 tsp salt
- ½ -1 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 3 tbsp pine nuts or sunflower seeds
- Wash the basil leaves and dry them with a towel or paper towel (or spin them in the salad spinner).
- Roast nuts in a frying pan or in the oven until golden brown (it only takes few minutes).
- Add to the blender all ingredients together and blend 2-3 minutes until homogenized.
Bruschetta with basil pesto
Toast 10 small slices of bread of your choice on the grill or in a toaster. Spread on each slice 1 teaspoon pesto and serve.
Spaghetti with basil pesto
- Boil 1 packet (500 gr) spaghetti of your choice according to the package directions.
- Drain the pasta and rinse with water under a tap (but not too much if you don’ t want them to become cold).
- Drain well and pour back into saucepan.
- Add the pesto, mix with the pasta and serve.
Nuts and seeds such as sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, are essential components in the vegan diet, as they are loaded with minerals, vitamins, proteins and beneficial fats.
By using nuts and seeds as the main ingredient in recipes such as non dairy cheeses, we can enjoy both their nutritional benefits and their strong and deep taste and flavor which is combined perfectly with savory dishes.
Especially sunflower seeds are widely used by vegetarians and vegans not only for their great nutritional value but also for their comparatively low price. However the basic problem I had to deal with when I wanted to prepare a raw cheese or even a raw dessert using sunflower seeds was that, after they were soaked in water for a couple of hours and then mixed with the ingredients of the raw recipe, they always developed a bitter, unpleasant taste especially the next day. In contrast, when I use them in recipes where they are cooked -for example I often replace cashews in my fennel tart with equal amount of sunflower seeds soaked for 2-3 hours- the bitter taste does not develop. So the secret is in the heat!
Thus, when I prepare a sunflower seed cheese, I pour plenty of boiling water over my seeds and I let them soak for at least one hour. Alternatively we can boil them for 15 minutes, but this way we will lose a lot of their nutritional value. Of course if we want to keep our recipe 100% raw, we can simply soak the seeds in cold water for 2-3 hours and continue with the remaining steps.
From this recipe you will get 1 cup of nutty and tasty cream cheese.
- 1 cup shelled sunflower seeds
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp Cayenne pepper
- 2 tbs lemon juice
- 2 tbs apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 4-5 pieces of dried tomato in olive oil (for extra umami !!!)
- 2 tbs olive oil (preferably from the sun-dried tomatoes)
- 1 tsp salt
- pinch of pepper
- Put sunflower seeds in a large glass or metal bowl and cover with plenty of boiling water. Leave for at least one hour to absorb moisture and soften.
- Drain sunflower seeds and pour in the blender with the rest of the ingredients. Blend at medium speed for 5 minutes, or until a smooth cream is formed.
- Taste and if necessary, add salt or apple cider vinegar.
- Transfer to an airtight glass container and keep in the fridge for up to 5-6 days.