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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Basil Pesto

I made a trip this weekend to the Vietnamese grocery store by my house.
This place is soooo different than walking into some place like Vons or Ralphs - - first of all, the store is HUGE - - I mean, unbelievably huge!! The fresh produce section is about twice the size of what you would find in a normal grocery store and there is just so much cool and unique stuff!! The freezer section is the same way, they have a WHOLE aisle that is just soy sauce - - all different kinds - - and they have a seafood section in the back that is all live crabs, lobster, and different kinds of fish.
There is also a jewelry store, a shoe store, an appliances store, a sushi ordering bar, a boba tea bar, a sandwich shop, a post office, an electronics store, a gift shop - - it's unreal. These little stores are more like huge booths on the periphery of the store, but they are permanent.
I went in to get some things to make Thai food at home (because I have been ordering it a lot the last couple of weeks and I figure that I could try to learn how to make it, mess it up a couple of times, buy everything again and still be spending about what I would pay to order it from a restaurant!!).

However, before I get started on trying to make that, there were a couple of other things, I couldn't help but pick up:

Basil - Can you believe all this basil was less than $1.50!!!!

Garlic - All of this was less than $2 and came pre-peeled for me!!!

In light of these great finds, I decided that it was high time I make some pesto (since it freezes easy, I can keep the taste of summer in my freezer for months when I wish the clouds or rain would go away!)

Quick Pesto Recipe

1 large bunch of basil, cleaned, removed from stems, and rough chopped
2 - 3 basil cloves, crushed
3/4 - 1 cup of walnuts or pine nuts (a couple of big handfuls), rough chop
1 Tbs nutritional yeast, optional
3 Tbs. cashews, optional
olive oil

Put basil, garlic, and walnuts (and nutritional yeast and cashews, if using) in a food processor. Start mixing and slowly add in olive oil in a thin stream until desired consistency is reached. Add salt and pepper if desired.

  • The cashews and nutritional yeast (not baking yeast, nutritional yeast can be found in health food stores, Henrys, Whole Foods, or Sprouts) will give this sauce an added creaminess and means that you won't miss the cheese. You could use just cashews or just the yeast, if that's what you have on hand. Or omit both, and it's still great.
  • This sauce is great - I use it on sandwiches and tofu or thinned out (with water and a little more olive oil) on salads and cooked, grilled, or raw veggies or thinned out (with pasta water) to use on regular pasta or in pasta salads.
  • And because this recipe is made without cheese, it freezes great! So make a big batch, pour it into ice cube trays, let freeze, and then pop in a freezer bag to save for days when you want to taste the goodness of summer!!
  • Another reason that I LOVE this recipe is that it is FORGIVING!! If you don't have basil, sub in parsley (italian or curly) or even arugula or anything dark green and thin; if you don't have pine nuts, use walnuts or cashews, or even pecans or brazil nuts. It will change the flavor a little bit, but it will still taste good (as long as you like those things; ie - if you hate parsley, don't use that, but otherwise, you are good to go!).
More later! :)