Hey guys it’s sunday and time for some inspiration to get you going for meatless monday!
Today I’d like to talk about pesto.
I love pesto. No seriously, I loooooove pesto. Ingredients are generally basil, parmesan, pine nuts and olive oil but there are many variations on this. My problem is that when it comes to making pesto myself, the ingredients are quite pricey for a one time cost. For two to three portions of pesto you really do need to use up an entire plant, and to me that is just wasteful. I didn’t just buy a plant to pluck it dry and throw it out did I? God dammit, no! I want to keep that thing on my window ledge and look all fanciful when I have guests! So for this reason I will share my secrets to making what I like to call Poor Man’s Pesto.
Ingredients: 2 Portions
80-100 grams of frozen spinach
A handful of sunflower kernels
A handful of grated parmesan
3-4 tablespoons of canola oil
1 pinch of salt
A couple of leaves of basil, or 1 teaspoon of dried basil
So these ingredients might sound a little funky, but trust me when I tell you it tastes awesome. But let me go through them and explain.
Spinach is a great substitute for any leafy green herb or salad, and the reason I use frozen instead of fresh is just for prize purposes. A 500 gram bag of frozen spinach cost me less than buying 50 grams of fresh spinach or one small basil plant, so for me the choice is simple. Also spinach is super good for you, but lets disregard that today. This is about price!
Nuts: For my pesto I chose sunflower kernels, but you can go ahead and choose any nut or seed you have in the house. Any nut or seed that you can smash into a paste will work great for a pesto, thought I would probably not use almonds or hazel nuts since they have a fairly distinct taste. If you have pumpkin seeds at hand they are my number 2 option for pesto. Now, why do I choose these over pine nuts? Because I don’t know about where you guys live, but here in Stockholm pine nuts are SOOOO expensive. I honestly can’t justify buying them a such a high price just to mash them up, even if they are crazy amazing in salads. No. That’s a big no for me.
Parmesan: I wrote parmesan here but any cheese that is in any way similar to parmesan cheese will be great also, but not like a swiss cheese or anything like that. It has to be a semi hard one. But just don’t skip the cheese. In fact, never ever skip cheese in anything you come across in your life. Cheese is go(o)d.
Oil: Guys… Olive oil is expensive. You know what isn’t expensive and has a very neutral flavour that doesn’t take over? Canola oil. Invest in canola oil, it’s fantastic for baking, frying, searing, dressings. It’s good. Go get some.
Basil: It is pesto after all. You will need a little bit of basil in there, but since you already have a lot of spinach you can make do with some dried leaves of just a few fresh ones. Whatever you can spare.
To make this pesto you must first defrost your spinach, so do that.
Secondly you will need a pestle and mortar for nut bashing(it’s a proper cooking term, I promise. Or well, it is now anyway), so get that out. Bash and crush your nuts and/or seeds and then you have gotten them to a crumble texture you can add the basil, the parmesan and incorporate that into you nut and/or seed mixture. Then toss in the defrosted spinach and the oil, a little bit at a time and mix it up. Taste, and add salt as you want.
This pesto can be used for a lot of things, perhaps as a dipping sauce for vegetable or maybe just mix it up with some boiled and drained pasta(with a dash of cream possibly? mmm… ), or you can do what I did and use as filling for homemade ravioli. Now I would never lie to you dear blog reader, so I will tell you flat-out that making ravioli can be incredibly frustrating. It’s not difficult in a way where it requires any real cooking skill, but it is a task for delicate hands and a mind that does not lack patients. So, fair warning. But, on the other hand it tasted great… So you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons.