Tonight I am sitting on my front porch in Historic Anacostia taking in views of the Capitol and Library of Congress to my left and views of the city beyond the Frederick Douglass House to the front of me, views that make the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of linguini tossed with fresh pesto and a glass of moscato infused with lavender. In bare feet I picked the basil from the herb garden in our front yard. In bare feet I prepared the pesto and flavored the moscato with lemongrass incense burning and Anthony David serenading. And in bare feet, I sit on my porch savoring it all by candlelight. . .
In the July/August 2011 issue of Psychology Today, I ran across a short piece headed “Basil: The most-used herb in the world can stand on its own stem” by Hara Estroff Marano. From it, I was reminded that basil is in the mint family and learned that it comes from the Greek word meaning sovereign. In addition, the article highlighted basil’s many benefits, including being antibacterial and anti-inflammatory and being an excellent source of beta-carotene, magnesium, iron, calcium, and B Vitamins, including folate. To get the maximum benefit from pesto, the article says to eat it fresh or soon after putting it on something hot, like pasta, potatoes and bread.
I used the recipe that appeared in Psychology Today as the starting point for my revised vegan version that features nutritional yeast as an alternative to the parmesan cheese usually called for in pesto. In addition to its delicious buttery, cheesy, nutty flavor, nutritional yeast is high in protein, B vitamins, and fiber! Read more about its benefits.
Vita’s Vegan Pesto
1 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and pat dry
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tomato chopped
sea salt to taste
black pepper to taste
Add olive oil, nuts, garlic, and basil to the bowl of the blender and pulse until a paste is formed. Transfer paste to a glass bowl. Stir in the nutritional yeast. Add salt and pepper to taste. Don’t be afraid to go with your taste buds. Stir in chopped tomatoes.
Enjoy immediately after tossing on hot pasta or potatoes or after spreading on warm bread. A dollop of pesto in the center of a bowl of soup is also quite delicious. Use it in place of regular sandwich spreads or enjoy pesto as an alternative to tomato-based pizza sauce.
To keep it from turning brown, put pesto in an airtight container with a thin layer of olive oil poured over it.
And most of all, enjoy!