Once mid-August arrived, I was hit by school. And school did hit me hard with a, “Look at me when I’m talking to you Woman!”
Alas, the fresh, fragrant basil in the garden froze before I made that big batch of pesto to use throughout the winter. And Holy High Herbs Batman, have you seen what you pay for fresh herbs in the grocery store? Or for pre-made pesto for that matter? Yikes on both counts… Truly – “yikes, yikes!”
With the additional problem of wanting to make dairy free pesto (a la the lovely and talented Little Sis), for my dairy free husband, I had to come up with something. So I bought a big old jar of dried basil. Gauche? Perhaps. Cheap? Definitely. A solution? Hooray!
I started with my hybrid sunflower seed / cashew cheese mixture that can also serve as a base for a cheesy flavor inclusion in burritos or sandwiches or right onto a cracker or carrot… This cheese goes either way depending on whether you add nutritional yeast flakes & a little water, or basil and some olive oil.
Here’s the recipe for the sunflower/cashew cheese spread – this time destined for pesto-ey pleasure.
Quick sunflower seed / cashew cheese
This is an attempt to combine some cheesy offerings we have shared in the past (sunflower cheese & cashew cheese) but without the extra work and time involved in making firm cashew cheese.
1/2 cup sunflower seeds & 1/2 cup cashews soaked in 2 cups of water in the frig (put these in to soak in the morning and they’ll be done by dinner)
juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 – 1 tsp salt
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 -3 Tbsp. dried basil
Mix all in food processor until creamy, scraping down sides as needed
I actually split the above recipe between cheesy filling for burritos and this pesto – simply removing half of this cheese BEFORE adding basil and olive oil, mixing those by hand and placing nutritional yeast flakes and water in to complete the cheesy filling. I mixed the basil and olive oil in by hand: IF YOU CUT THE CHEESE (okay, okay) IN HALF, ALSO HALF WHAT YOU ADD AFTER CUTTING IN HALF>
Taste as you go (always good from many angles), and add basil and olive oil (as above) to preferred taste and consistency.
Place this concoction on pasta of your choice with veggies of your choice, such as…colored bell peppers and swiss chard:
3 orange peppers
1/2 large bunch (about 3 large leaves, stems removed)
1 – 2 cloves garlic
Tbsp. olive oil
Saute the above – garlic first, then peppers, then chard:
Cook your pasta to package directions. Top with sauteed veggies and a generous dollop of pesto cheese.
This was very tasty and it was fun to make the 2 ‘cheeses’ from a base on one night. The cheese step the second night was then very quick. I also doubled the pepper and chard saute and froze half of it for an easy base for this or another dish on another night. I love having those frozen back ups that lack the usual additives of frozen foods. Cheap pesto rocks!