Dairy-Free Nut-Free Basil Pesto is the Best-o
April 2, 2012 33 Comments
I remember my first taste of pesto. It was a warm summer night on an island off the coast of Maine after I had just completed the 8th grade. My mom and I were on an epic, two week road trip along the East coast with my maternal grandmother.
There are a few memorable moments seared in my brain from that trip. Like when my grandmother told my mother that I was ungrateful after leaving my used towels strewn about the bathroom floor in our hotel room (oops! still feel bad about that!). Or when I had my first (and only!) lucid dream while napping in our rental house on Cape Cod as my mom attended a conference presented by Will Schutz (my cat’s name happened to be Schutz!)
Most of all, I remember trying pesto for the first time. We were having dinner at an old friend’s of my mom’s summer house and it first hit my olfactory senses as they were cooking dinner in the kitchen. I will never forget the feeling that strong basil aroma left in me and, to this day, whenever I smell that piquant herb it brings me back to that very moment in my life. Our hosts had prepared a lovely dish of pesto pasta and I remember the taste being just as remarkable, though surprisingly not as strong as the scent.
After that amazing night with pesto it wasn’t until years later when I was in college that I finally encountered it again. And ever since I’ve not let this heavenly dish go.
What’s remarkable is that I’ve found you don’t need to add much to pesto to create an amazing condiment. In fact, I think that the less you add, the stronger the basil flavor. Some foods play well with each other and can actually enhance the strength of each other’s flavor, but neither cheese nor nuts do that for basil. I discovered this when I went vegan and started to omit the cheese. Also, at that time I was making my pesto with almonds because Alex is allergic to pine nuts. Soon after I tried it sans nuts entirely and found that I liked it even better. So here you have the only other players in addition to basil in this amazing pesto—lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic.
So few ingredients makes for a very fast meal. Throw them all in your food processor and blend away. I like using my mini processor for pesto since all of those fluffy basil leaves are reduced to this as soon as you turn on the motor.
Yes, all of that basil only produced this much pesto. It makes buying a few basil plants a worthy addition to your home garden.
A very easy way to enjoy pesto (besides pasta) is by toasting baguette slices in the oven…
and then smearing the besto pesto on them…
and then topping them with slices of fresh tomato.
Dairy-Free Nut-Free Basil Pesto
- 4 cups fresh basil or one bunch, rinsed and trimmed
- juice of half a lemon
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- water (if necessary to thin it out if you don’t want to use more oil)
- salt and pepper to taste