Pesto is my JAM. I love Pesto and I religiously make this stuff at least once a week. It’s applications are endless and I often find myself using it on spaghetti noodles or grilled toast with mushrooms of some sort. As a kid, my mom would frequently do pesto pasta for quick lunches to bring to school. Now, you know when you’re in middle school and you’re one of those kids that brings their lunch, you feel like an outcast. All the cool kids seemed to be the ones eating shitty ass food in the cafeteria or asking you why you aren’t getting a hamburger and Slim Jim. Really?
So, bringing a homemade pasta to lunch in a hand-me-down Sanrio tupperware, seemed rather embarrassing to me at the time. I rarely ate the lunch my mom packed, UNLESS…UNLESS…it was PESTO! I didn’t care who noticed me eating my pesto…it was just delicious. So as I share this perfect pesto recipe with you, I’m doing it with my middle finger up to all the kids that made me waste food and feel like a loser when I brought my pesto for lunch.
The perfect pesto starts with a really good batch of basil. If you can get the freshest basil at a farmer’s market, then do that! Some folks like to soak the basil in water to rid the bitterness of the leaves, but to me, that doesn’t really make a huge difference.
The biggest trick to a good pesto is keeping it green…bright green. After 10+ years of making this stuff, I’ve found that doing a 50/50 blend of basil to spinach yields a perfect green color. A fresh squeeze of lemon locks in that color so that when you use the pesto on warm pasta, it doesn’t turn brownish in color.
When I turned Vegan, I remember thinking how would I make pesto without the parmesan cheese? Isn’t that vital to a good pesto too? Well folks, it turns out it’s definitely not vital. You can do without the cheese and not have to compromise flavor…oh yeah, and you can stop consuming another species’ breast milk while you’re at it too. FTW!
So, to get a creamy texture, I turned to hemp seed and pine nuts.
Hemp seed is cool as shit because, well…it’s hemp, and it has a bunch of good omega 3 for your body. You’ll want to pack a cup full of basil and spinach for your 50/50 ratio.
Garlic is super important to pesto so don’t forget it! Sometimes I forget the garlic and literally want to just chuck the whole batch out…sort of, but not really. Yep, I’m kind of OCD like that. In a bulb of garlic, there’s usually a smaller to medium sized clove in the group. I’d aim for that size, so the garlic doesn’t over power the pesto.
Throw everything in a blender with a neutral olive oil. Side note: Too light of an olive oil, your pesto lacks body. Too heavy of an oil tends to have a fruitier / bitter characteristic to the pesto that might require more lemon to balance it out.
After your food processor whirls away the basil and emulsifies the oil with the lemon juice, you should get a bright green pesto that looks like mother nature just took a green shit in your bowl. That’s perfect pesto!
The crazy thing is that when you purchase pesto in jars at the store, they can break your wallet and you’ll be lucky if you find one that’s decent and has zero cheese in it. Now you can make pesto for DAYS. Ciao!
- 1 cup (40g) of basil
- 1 cup (40g) of spinach
- 1/2 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 4 oz. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp hemp seeds
- 1 tbsp pine nuts
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- pepper to taste
- Wash and rinse basil and spinach. Spin dry in salad spinner.
- Place all leaves in food processor.
- Add hemp seed, pine nuts, garlic clove, salt and pepper.
- Squeeze 1/2 oz. lemon juice while adding 4 oz. extra virgin olive oil.
- Blend and process everything, then scoop pesto into bowl with a squeeze of lemon on top. Enjoy on any pasta, breads, or veggies of your choice!