I don’t claim to be vegan. I only claim to dip my toe in the vegan pool. Going out to eat is what kills my chances of being truly vegan only because I love to do it and there aren’t many vegan restaurants serving up dinner in Baltimore.
However, at home – I cook vegan dinners from one of my fabulous vegan cookbooks. And just a quick note, I think the authors of the Veganomicon should be paying me some sort of a thank you fee for convincing 3 people (non-vegetarians!) to purchase their cookbook. Seriously – I’ll accept thank yous in the form of cash, check, gifts, food…
Sunday’s dinner was a recipe from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan by Dreena Burton.
Lemony Cashew-Basil Pesto on Pasta
Traditional pesto takes on new life with this recipe. Cashews provide a buttery, creamy contrast to the tangy lemon juice and intense fresh basil. When basil is abundant, make double or triple batches, since this pesto freezes wonderfully.
MAKES 3–4 SERVINGS.
3–3½ tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large clove garlic
¾ tsp dry mustard
¾ tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp water
1 cup + 1–2 tbsp raw cashews (see note)
2½–2¾ cups (packed) fresh basil leaves and tender stems
½–¾ lb (225–340 g) dry pasta of choice (see note) – I used whole wheat spaghetti
olive oil (for finishing)
In a food processor, combine lemon juice, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, oil, and water, and purée until fairly smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add cashews and basil and purée until fairly smooth (may leave some texture). Cook pasta according to package directions. When almost done, remove about 1/2 cup of pasta water and reserve. Drain pasta (do not rinse) and toss with pesto, using as much pesto as desired (see note).
If pasta seems too dry, add some pasta water, 1 tbsp at a time, until moistened to preference.
Season with additional salt and pepper if desired, and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
1) Use brown rice, spelt, or quinoa pasta for a wheat-free dish.
2) Raw almonds may be substituted for cashews, just add extra water or oil to moisten when puréeing.
3) You can make this pesto in advance and refrigerate in a sealed container until you’re ready to cook the pasta.
4) This pesto also makes a dynamite sandwich spread or pizza sauce (or dollop on pesto as a pizza topping).
5) I like a lot of sauce on my pastas, but you may prefer less; use up to1 lb (450 g) pasta and add extra cooking water or oil to help distribute the pesto through the pasta.
The cookbook suggested pairing this dish with garlic bread and a salad with a balsamic vinegar dressing (both side dish recipes taken from the cookbook).
I have never made garlic bread before. I’ve only ever purchased the yucky frozen kind and now am an official convert to doing it this way. It was so easy and so good.
The pesto – so good and so easy to make. And thank god for food processors. I wonder how I survived without one for so long. Seriously – what did other people do? Chopping is for suckers!
Speaking of loving kitchen gadgets… this is my juicer. I frickin’ love this thing. I know there are little hand held juicers that are super cute but I love this because it’s less work for me. I’m already typing on a keyboard all day, I don’t need to aggravate my hands anymore (hello, carpal tunnel!). I can squeeze the juice out of lemons, limes and oranges with ease. And it looks good.
I contemplated putting this on our nice china platter just to make for a nice picture but then I realized that I’d have to handwash the platter and it just didn’t seem worth it. Plus who am I kidding? We’re not that fancy… unless we’re having people over for dinner in which case we pretend to dine on fine china and drink wine with every meal.
The final plate. I think the pesto should probably be much thicker but I had doubled the pasta in the recipe so I’d have leftovers for lunch all week. It was still plentiful though.
How was everyone else’s weekend?
And I have a few “seriously?” things I’d like to quickly mention from pop culture.
Chris Brown beat up Rihanna? Seriously? Is he a MORON? She’s gorgeous and fabulous and he’s lame and lucky she even gave him her time. Did he think nobody was going to find out that he beat her?
Michael Phelps smoking pot? Seriously? While it’s great that he owned up to it (there was no denying that picture) – when you’re famous, you’re held to a completely different standard. Hello?
A-Rod did steroids? Seriously? I guess it’s not shocking anymore to hear of baseball players using steroids but given the witchhunt for steroid usage in sports you have to wonder if the drugs screw up someone’s brain cells… because hello? Why would you even risk it?
that’s all for now.