Dairy Free Pesto

I love Pesto, it’s a staple in my fridge as it can transform many dull everyday ingredients into a comforting, substantial meal. The warm, peppery basil is intoxicating, the creaminess of the pine nuts and that tell tale saltiness of a rich hard Pecorino whisk me off to warm Mediterranean climes, even though I’ve never actually been to Italy, but still I’m trying to create some beautiful imagery for you here.

So you can imagine how upset I am that I can no longer eat the gorgeous, green goo that has become something of a culinary cliché in the kitchen. Thanks dairy! I’ve tried various store bought dairy free alternatives but most just leave me with a sour taste in my mouth mainly because it’s just a jar of vinegary, green mush. At first this sated my need for pesto as there was some vague basil taste but soon I was on the hunt for something better slightly more ‘authentic’.

Then as I was meandering around Waitrose deciding on what I wanted for dinner I walked past the potted herbs and got a huge whiff of basil and knew that’s what I wanted, something a bit green, a bit fresh. Now I know what’s meant to go in pesto and took it upon myself to create a masterpiece and hurried around the shop collecting what my pallet thought best. Below is a rough recipe, I didn’t measure anything I just bunged everything in.

NOTE: ‘Bunged’ is a very technical term in my kitchen and one that’s thrown around by me a lot.

Dairy Free Pesto

This makes enough to fill a Bon Maman Jam Jar with a little left over to cover some spaghetti for one

80g Basil (A large bunch)
1 Garlic clove, grated
Grated zest of 1 lemon
30g Sunflower seeds
50g Walnuts
Olive oil

  1. Bung the basil, garlic, lemon, sunflower seeds and walnuts in a food processor and give it a quick whizz so that everything is finely chopped.
  2. With the food processor running slowly add the olive oil a few glugs at a time until you get your desired consistency. I apologise for the vagueness but I really haven’t a clue what the measurement for this is.
  3. When it’s come together as a loose paste (my preference) turn off the food processor and have a quick taste. (This is when I really sensed it was lacking in cheese) Season to taste then pour into a clean jam jar.

Cook’s Notes: I added a mixture of walnuts and sunflower seeds for taste and texture reasons, you could use just one of them or you could go for pine nuts, it’s really all about preference. The garlic flavour is quite strong in this as it’s raw so if you think you’re going to be snogging Johnny Depp after your meal then I’d advise using less. If on the other hand you suddenly remember that Johnny Depp actually lives in France and is dating a French woman you can add an extra clove.

Before popping this in the fridge I poured a layer of oil over the top so that no bits and bobs where exposed as there’s nothing worse than cooking a huge pan of pasta, raiding the fridge, opening the jar of pesto and seeing a furry mass sat on the side of the jar. Yuck. I’m not going to lie, in times of desperation, I have scraped this off and dug deep for fur free pesto. I should seek help.

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