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I'm sharing vegetarian recipes for wholesome foodies here.
My book "Bowls of Goodness"  is released in January 2017.

New Pesto variations - Slow Sunday

New Pesto variations - Slow Sunday

From the left: Sweetie, a strawberry & basil pesto. Nordic: a cdill &  green pea pesto. Asia: a cilantro, lime and peanut pesto. Bohemia: a roasted beet and sunflower pesto.

From the left: Sweetie, a strawberry & basil pesto. Nordic: a cdill &  green pea pesto. Asia: a cilantro, lime and peanut pesto. Bohemia: a roasted beet and sunflower pesto.

 

This is really tasty stuff! For my third "Slow Sunday" post I had in mind a fermented project, but the wild yeast that I'm brewing wasn’t developing on time. Luckily, my herb garden is in the opposite mode, there are green wonders shooting up quicker than we can eat them. So this Slow Sunday post is about harvesting the abundance of delicious aromatic summer herbs, and making tasty variations of pesto.

I always loved a classic Italian basil, parmesan, and pine pesto. It used to be one of my regular tricks to pimping up pastas and breads when I started cooking for myself after moving out of my parents house. Delicious and versatile, often used as a simple dip, or more cleverly as a marinade for oven dishes. It's a great little taste maker! When I discovered how good home made pesto was, the love grew even stronger! An aha moment arrived when I was served a fabulous dip at a fusion food restaurant some years ago, a merging between basil pesto and thai style chili dip with coriander and peanuts, it tasted spectacular. I realized that there was no need to stop the formula of pesto just because you’re out of basil.

Today's Slow Sunday is about preparing alternative pesto in a traditional way. Using a mortar and pestle, and a sharp knife. The recipes can be made with a food processor but the idea of mindful cooking would be less present. Making pesto with pestle and mortar used to be the only way before food processors. And it's really enjoyable, the slow way.

Home made pesto is a very sweet gift to give to friends and delicious to serves a antipasto. Want to see these photos separate click here!

Home made pesto is a very sweet gift to give to friends and delicious to serves a antipasto. Want to see these photos separate click here!

I’ve made a gang of alternative pestos from a basic formula, where the herbs, nuts and likes, all can be swopped for different ingredients to make a new and original pesto.

Pestos are great as party food, on crostinis. Antipasto style. You can also use it to marinate your veggies before roasting or grilling, topping pizzas and salads and a given use is - on your pasta or zoodles.

If you feel inspired to create a new original pesto version after reading this post, or already made a delicious alternative recipe, share your results and recipes in the comment field, if you like. I've created the hashtag #thepestochallenge on Instagram, were all creative pesto alternatives can gather in a feed.

 

Here’s a basic formula for making pesto

1 - 1 ½ part herbs
½ part nuts
½ part parmesan
⅓ - ½ part olive oil, extra virgine
¼ - ½ tsp salt
A good squeeze of citrus
1 - 2 cloves garlic

Making vegan pesto:
All of the recipe cheese can subbed with vegan parmesan cheese, you’ll find a recipe for this on The  Minimalist Bakers blog here.
 

How to & tips for making a high quality pesto

  1. Chop your herbs by hand: Blender and food processors can go to far with your pesto. The delicate flavors are best extracted with the love and attention of your hands and eyes. Just like the kitchen proud italian mothers would do it. And remember we're doing Slow Sundays..
  2. Herb quality: Use young and vibrant leaves, skip tired brown or sad herbs, put them on the compost instead. If you care for herbs in your gardens or in pots, regularly snip of leaves that are ready to be eaten, it will make the whole plant happier and healthier, new flavorful leaves will grow easily.
  3. Toast the nuts: It brings out the flavour, takes away bitterness and it also reduces phytic acids that can be harmful to us  in larger amounts.
  4. Use a sharp knife: If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use a knife through the whole recipe, separately cutting all ingredients very fine and drizzle a little olive oil during cutting over herbs and garlic, mix all well in a bowl at the end with salt, grated cheese, citrus and olive oil.
  5. Cutting your herbs: Move from side to side both in vertical and horizontal lines, make sure to break the cellulose of the herbs by cutting really fine, this is where the flavors are released.

How about a  strawberry basil pesto? Or an asian peanut, lime and cilantro pesto? The sky is the limit!

Here’s four delicious pestos to try and get inspired by:

Roasting  the beets and sunflowers brings out wonderful flavors.

Roasting  the beets and sunflowers brings out wonderful flavors.

 

Bohemia - a roasted beet & sunflower pesto

The sweet and earthy roasted beet with zaatar and goats cheese pesto is inspired by some health conscious real hippies I know. Nothing tastes more bohemian than a sunflower spread. You don't need to wear a kaftan to enjoy it :) It will taste just as good in any setting. Bringing out the seductive middle eastern flavors to any dish you add it to.

Makes a small jar

INGREDIENTS

2 beets, peeled and chopped into 2 cm cubes
a handful of sunflower seeds
a big handful of fresh herbs, ⅓ mint ⅓ parsley ⅓ basil
1 clove of garlic ½ tsp salt
juice of one lemon
a handful of fresh crumbled goats cheese a
a few tablespoons olive oil, extra virgine
olive oil and salt for roasting
1 tsp zaatar spice mix

HOW TO:

Preheat oven to 160℃. Roast the the beetroot and sunflower seeds for 30 - 35 minutes with a little olive oil and salt sprinkled on top. Remove from oven and let cool. In a mortar crush the garlic with salt, add a tbsp olive oil. Chop the herbs with a knife, very fine, add to the mortar. Chop the nuts and beets in small fine pieces and add with lemon and zaatar to the mortar. Pound together with the pestle. Add small crumbles of goats cheese and mix well. Move the pesto to a jar or container, make sure the pesto has a top layer of olive oil keeping it moist and delicious. Keep in the fridge until serving.

Sweetie - a strawberry, basil & hemp seed pesto

Strawberries and basil makes sparkles together. So does sweet and savory and parmesan loves fruit and berries. A delicious treat on crostinis and cheeses.

Makes a small jar

INGREDIENTS

a handful of fresh strawberries, chopped into small pieces ( mix in the last )
a handful of toasted pine nuts
4 tbsp parmesan cheese
a few tablespoons olive oil, extra virgine
1 clove garlic
A big handful of fresh basil
hemp seeds 3-4 tbsp
¼ - ½ tsp salt
juice of 1 lemon

HOW TO:

In a mortar crush the garlic with salt, add a tbsp olive oil. Chop the herbs with a knife, very fine, add to the mortar. Chop the pine nuts in small fine pieces and add with lemon to the mortar. Add parmesan and hemps seeds and pound together with the pestle. Last, add the strawberries and mix well, keep some strawberry pieces visible. Taste and adjust if needed with salt and lemon and olive oil.  Move the pesto to a jar or container, make sure the pesto has a top layer of olive oil keeping it moist and delicious. Keep in the fridge until serving.

NORDIC.jpg

 

Nordic - a dill, parsley & aged cheese pesto

Traditionally there are not so many choices of herbs and nuts growing in the Nordic countries, but spices and special ingredients found their way through trading ships several hundred years ago, almonds like coffee and other goodies has been part of the swedish food culture for a long time. Dill and parsley is quintessentially scandinavian herbs. I used an old aged cheese instead of parmesan, as swedes are particularly found of those cheeses.

Makes a small jar

INGREDIENTS

a handful fresh dill, strong stems cut off
a handful fresh parsley
a few tablespoons olive oil, extra virgin
a handful aged old cheese, grated fine
a handful toasted macademia or almonds, finely chopped
½ - 1 tsp salt
a big handful frozen or fresh green garden peas
juice of 1 lemon

HOW TO:

Chop the herbs very fine with a knife. Add to the mortar. Chop nuts in small fine pieces and add with lemon and a little olive oil to the mortar. Pound with the pestle. Add the aged cheese and green peas and pound everything together with the pestle, adding olive oil as you mix the ingredients together. Taste and adjust if needed with salt and lemon and olive oil. Move the pesto to a jar or container, make sure the pesto has a top layer of olive oil keeping it moist and delicious. Keep in the fridge until serving.


Asia: a basil cilantro pesto with peanuts and sesame seeds

An attempt to recreate the dip I tasted several years ago, and it's pretty close to how I remember it. Peanuts and cilantro are delicious with basil and parmesan!

Makes a small jar

INGREDIENTS

1 clove of garlic
½ - 1 tsp salt
a big handful of herbs ( ¾ basil ¼ cilantro
a few tablespoons olive oil, extra virgine
3-4 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
a small handfull sesame seeds
a handful unsalted peanuts
juice of 1 lime (you can also use lemon)
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 cm red chili pepper, chopped fine
½ tbsp honey

HOW TO:

In a mortar crush the garlic with salt, add a tbsp olive oil. Chop the herbs very fine with a knife. Add to the mortar. Chop nuts in small fine pieces and add with lemon and a little olive oil to the mortar. Pound with the pestle. Add lime, chili, soy sauce, parmesan and honey with olive oil and pound all together well. Taste and adjust if needed with salt and lime and olive oil.

Move the pesto to a jar or container, make sure the pesto has a top layer of olive oil keeping it moist and delicious. Keep in the fridge until serving.

Smokey Baba Ganoush - Slow Sunday

Smokey Baba Ganoush - Slow Sunday

Veggie burger with dill & mustard sauce, hot pickles and artichoke cream

Veggie burger with dill & mustard sauce, hot pickles and artichoke cream