It is raining in Vancouver. Such a cliché, really. While we Vancouverites have yet to taste the summer sun, I have started to crave fresh summer foods. Jack and I bought our first barbecue last week and have managed to lug it out three times already to grill assorted treasures. Mushrooms. Zucchini. Red peppers. Pineapple. Onions. Corn. Ok, we normally try not to eat corn but barbecued corn on the cob is just too good.
Today I did not feel inspired to haul out the barbecue by myself in the rain. Instead my mind wandered to summers spent with my second family, who happen to be Italian. I thought of sun-warmed basil and Italian parsley, freshly picked and deftly chopped together with jalapeño, garlic and olive oil to make the best pesto I had ever had. I spent hours in that kitchen and this is one of the many recipes I picked up. Like the others, this is the kind of recipe you eyeball. Today, however, I measured the ingredients so I could share the recipe with you.
This recipe is naturally vegan and nut-free. The first time I made it for Jack he was a little wary. Pesto has sent him to the hospital a couple times, as it usually has pine nuts in it. So, here’s to a fresh, Jack-friendly pesto with a kick! It is delicious by itself or mixed with some plain Hunt’s tomato sauce on brown rice pasta. It’s also amazing mixed with a little mayo or vegenaise and slathered on a grilled portobello mushroom with roasted red peppers. It’s like an instant aioli! Fun fact about me: I pretty much only eat mayo if it is called “aioli.”
2 small bunches of basil, stems removed
1 bunch Italian parsley, stems removed
4 cloves organic garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 a jalapeño pepper, roughly chopped (test for spiciness; you may want to remove the seeds)
1/2 cup good quality cold-pressed olive oil
1 tsp. sea-salt
freshly-ground pepper to taste
Wash basil and parsley and dry thoroughly. I spun them in my salad spinner, then laid the leaves on a clean tea towel and gently patted them dry. Not drying the leaves will result in a watery pesto. Yucky!
Toss garlic and jalapeño in a food processor, followed by basil, parsley, salt, pepper and olive oil. If you do not have a food processor, simply chop all ingredients as finely as you desire and stir in the olive oil. I have done this many times and it works just fine!
Process on low, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed.
When the pesto is a good consistency, taste for salt and place pesto in a glass jar. At this point, I stirred in a little more olive oil.
Makes about a cup of pesto. Keeps well in the fridge, just make sure it is covered with enough oil to preserve it and keep it from turning brown at the top.