5 minute Lemony Basil Pesto
As February heats up, the wee basil plants which skirt my tomatoes are finally starting to grow faster than the slugs can eat them. Fresh basil has to be one of those smells which immediately calls back memories of long summer days and fresh tomatoes, still warm from the vine. Each year, I harness those thoughts of summer by making big batches of basil pesto and freezing them into ice cube trays. In the depths of winter when I go to work and leave work in darkness, these little cubes of magic are enough to take me instantly back to long summer days.
This is a dairy free version - my secret, to mimic the salty, tangy, umami of parmesan here is a tiny dollop of miso. Yes, miso. It hits just the right flavour notes. Combined with classic additions of pine nuts and garlic, you'd never know this is dairy free, vegan, and paleo.
I love to load mine up with lemon (zest and juice), but feel free to skip the zest if you want a toned down version. Don't like pine nuts? Try cashews, pistachios, or walnuts instead. Throw in some olives instead of the miso, or how about a good handful of sun dried tomatoes for that 90s flavour throwback? You can really go nuts here, so play around and find a flavour combination you like.
Keeping things economical, I like to use the whole plant, stalks and all (there's so much flavour people just throw away!). This works best while the stalks are still nice and green, but even so, they will take a little longer to blitz down. And as I like my pesto on the chunky side, I pulverise these to a puree before adding the leaves, nuts, and final trimmings. This ensures I get all the flavour but none of the fibrey bits from the stalks. After adding the final pieces, I give it a final whirl which results in a perfect, slightly chunky puree, just the way I like it.
This is a super easy and comes together in minutes. Harness the power of summer basil now! Do it for your winter self!