Prime Pesto Time

Late fall inspires me to focus on the home, and that inspiration inevitably manifests in the kitchen. It’s the best time of year to try new recipes and get that oven fired up. Breads, soups, and roasts are some favorites this time of year, but lately I’ve been hankering for some green stuff. And by that I mean pesto. Basil-ly, garlic-y, nutty, cheesy pesto. It’s incredibly versatile as you can bake it into bread or on pizza, or toss it into some pasta. It’s also delicious with roasted vegetables. When the weather outside tells me to add a layer to my skin, I respond with carbs, apparently.

The only problem? Cheese. An essential ingredient in traditional recipes. Now, Levi and I are not vegan and don’t claim to be, but we like to do our best to cut back on the animals in our diets. I knew there had to be some quick fix to replace the cow-made stuff! Voila, the perfect excuse to use nutritional yeast.

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Nutritional yeast is the answer to every cheese-loving veggie/vegan’s dreams. It’s got the cheesy taste, and it’s even great for those who are looking for a healthier and lighter option in their diets. In addition to having less fat and zero saturated fat, nutritional yeast has about 3 times more protein and TONS of vitamins and minerals. It can be used anywhere from pasta dishes to sprinkled on popcorn. So, why not use it to sub out the cheese in pesto?

So I did!

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Pulled from various traditional pesto recipes, here’s the mix I blended up in the trusty food processor:

  • 2 cups Fresh Basil
  • 1/2 cup Pine Nuts (a.k.a. Pignolias)
  • 3-4 cloves Garlic
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper

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The yield was roughly 2-3 servings for our pasta dish. It turned out great and tasted just like what I would expect from a traditional pesto. Success!

I served the chiocciole pasta up with some sauteed onion, mushrooms, spinach leaves and grape tomatoes. And of course warm, buttery (Earth Balance) bread. Delicioso! And cruelty-free to boot.

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