Posts tagged basil
Veggie pesto pine nut squares

This veggie pesto bake is a wonderful summer recipe, especially using fresh basil from the garden!

I wanted to make this recipe for my family at the weekend. I found the photos in my archives from when I first shot the recipe last year for realfoodsource using their new ingredient range, but I couldn't find the actual recipe anywhere!

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I have made variations on it - these sweet potato rostis in particular, so I knew the rough idea. I figured I'd have to wing it and hope for the best.... it turned out really well!

Instead of making it as squares as per the original photos, I cooked it in a square oven dish and served it up hot with a huge salad. The squares are still amazing though.

This is best made with spiralized veggies for a pretty ‘curly whirly’ effect but you could use a julienne peeler or a coarse grater. I used a mix of carrot, courgette and a little onion but you could use fewer or different ingredients such a sweet potato or parsnip if you prefer. You could also bake this mix into pre-portioned muffin cups.

To save time I used bought free-from pesto in a jar, but you could make your own, or use hummus with herbs added to it.

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Recipe: Veggie pesto pine nut squares

Makes approx 12 squares (a brownie sized pan)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups spiralized vegetables (I courgette, 2 medium carrots and 1 red onion)

  • ¼ cup almond or cashew paste (optional)

  • 1/2 cup vegan pesto (or regular pesto or hummus and fresh basil)

  • approx. ½ tsp salt (this may depend on the pesto etc used)

  • approx. 3 tbs water

  • A handful of extra fresh basil, roughly chopped

  • 1 cup chickpea (gram) flour

  • ¼ cup pine nuts (up to ½ cup more if preferred)

Method:

Spiralize or julienne the veggies, chop a little to avoid very long ribbons.  Set aside.

Mix together the wet ingredients and add to the coat the veggies (taste test and add salt and pepper as desired). Add the gram flour last and mix to coat well. Add an extra splash of water if the mix doesn’t appear quite wet enough to coat evenly. Mix through the pine nuts now or set aside to press into the top if preferred.

Press the mix firmly into a lightly greased brownie sized tin- the mix should be approx 2cm thick. Smooth the top and press in the pine nuts.  Bake at 180C for approx 25-30 mins until golden. Serve hot or allow to cool and cut into squares- great for lunchboxes or picnics when served cold. Will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.

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Pesto

I know what you’re thinking…. pesto is all about the cheese.

Well not this version and I guarantee you won’t miss it.

What’s more I’ve included a few cost saving and tips and healthanizing (hmmm that’s really not a word!) tips to reduce the oil content if you are that way inclined (personally I am not since pesto is used in such relatively small quantities).

I first made this batch up a few months back and had almost forgotten about it since I had portioned it in to an ice-cream tray and frozen it. It’s a great way to ensure you have fresh pesto on hand at all times as it can be used in so many ways…. one great option will be coming up in tomorrow's post…but for now let’s just talk pesto!

This recipe is so simple (as you know I’m not generally a fan of over complicated instructions),  it’s another one of my ‘whack it all in a food processor and go’ type recipes, so there’s no excuse for not giving it a go if you have the ingredients to hand!

It’s also a pretty flexible recipe, and as you can see from the list of ingredients, spinach can used to sub part of the basil if necessary without compromising the flavour, similarly in the past I have used both walnuts and cashews instead of pine nuts as they are so expensive, but feel to use either, or even almonds…go a little crazy with your combos! Obviously some nuts have more of a dominant taste than others, so go with your preference. 

The nutritional yeast and miso paste are what gives the pesto the deep mellow cheesy nutty touch so don’t leave these out if you want to achieve a pesto that is more reminiscent of the real thing. As with many vegan foods, don’t expect it to be an exact replacement for it’s traditional counterpart . Embrace the (healthy) differences and enjoy it in it’s own right and appreciate the unique but equally satisfying flavours and textures.

Recipe: Vegan Pesto

Makes one jar

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh basil (or 1 ½ cups and omit the spinach)
  • ½ cup spinach plus ½ tsp dried basil)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbs soy milk or silken tofu
  • 1 cup walnuts/cashews/almonds (cheaper than the traditionally used pine nuts)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup
  • nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp miso paste
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Note: You could sub half the oil for silken tofu (not tested)

Preparation:

Grind nuts and garlic in a food processor until nuts are coarsely ground. Combine with remaining ingredients and grind until you have a medium grained paste- it should not be to smooth!. Add more salt and pepper if preferred.

Store in the fridge for a few days or freeze in batches- I used an ice cube tray.

 (here's your little teaser....pesto polenta bruschetta)

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