You guys. I have SO MUCH BASIL. And it's January! This stuff grows like crazy in our indoor Tower Garden. I planted a bunch because I was worried about running out of the pesto we froze after harvesting our outdoor plants at the end of the summer. Well, have no fear; there is no shortage here!
I am a total convert of growing basil hydroponically. Even my most robust outdoor plants were never this prolific. Basil just seems to love growing in rockwool with water raining down over its roots! Interestingly, we have also found it to be much less susceptible to the notorious blights and downy mildew when grown in our Tower Garden. (We tell you more about this growing system over in our Hydroponics Made Easy section.)
This is a good thing because we love pesto. Throw it on pasta for a quick meal, use it in place of pizza sauce, spread it on a sandwich. It's a great way to get greens into our kids! But here's the thing. Last year, our middle child was diagnosed with a dairy allergy. This meant a total overhaul of our usual meals. For starters, we had to go searching for a way to still make delicious pesto without the parmesan cheese. After trying a few recipes and making adjustments, we settled on this one as our favorite. No one even noticed the difference!
Vegan Basil Pesto Recipe
3 cups of packed basil leaves with stems removed)
3-4 TBS pine nuts (or any nut of your choosing)
3-4 garlic cloves
4-5 TBS nutritional yeast (or parmesan cheese)
3 TBS lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3-4 TBS olive oil
splash of water as needed
1. Harvest your basil and remove the stems and flowers. No need to rinse if you are growing hydroponically indoors!
2. Pack those basil leaves into your food processor and add everything but the oil and water.
3. Blend on high adding oil slowly as you go. Pause to scrape down the sides and then continue. If you would like the pesto to take on more of a sauce form, add a bit of water.
4. Give it a taste and adjust the flavor to your liking. Want it a little tarter? Add some more lemon. Smoother? Add a bit more oil and yeast. Spicier? Throw in some extra garlic.
5. Enjoy now or freeze it in an ice cube tray for future meals!