I used to think that pesto was just something that you put on pasta. It was tasty and all but not something that I really ever bought because it had limited uses and was kind of pricey.
I also thought that it was always made from basil and pinenuts – boy did I have a lot to learn!
Since beginning my Real Food journey, I’ve learned that pesto means ‘crushed’ or ‘ground’ (from the same word as pestle). There are a zillion different variations, only limited by your imagination. There are also an amazing amount of uses for it and it’s a fantastic way to sneak some extra fresh greens into a fussy child.
I love to make pesto using a big bunch of locally grown mixed greens that I buy from my local organic fruit and vegetable shop.
You don’t need to lactoferment pesto but it increases the shelf life from a week to a couple of months as well as adding those fantastic, friendly little microbes that we love so much.
This recipe is quite intuitive – there’s a lot of leeway to change things around according to your taste and what ingredients you have available. Have fun with this one and don’t be afraid to be creative.
1 large bunch of leafy greens (such as spinach, kale, basil, coriander or a mixture)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup crispy cashew nuts (feel free to substitute another type of nut)
juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon
2 tbsp fresh whey (or a couple of tablespoons of juice from a previous lactofermented product)
salt and pepper to taste
1. Put all ingredients (just start with the juice of 1/2 a lemon – you can add more later if you like) in a food processor and pulse until it reaches the desired consistency.
2. Taste and adjust seasoning and lemon juice if necessary.
3. Put into an appropriately sized very clean glass jar. Cover and leave at room temperature for 2-3 days until small bubbles start appearing. You may also hear a slight fizz when you open the jar.
4. Transfer to the fridge where it will keep for a couple of months. It also freezes well.
Note – if you don’t wish to ferment your pesto, pour a layer of olive oil over the top and store in the fridge for up to a week. It can also be frozen in ice cubes which make convenient single serves.
Some ways to use your pesto:
- Stir through pasta!
- Spread on sourdough toast and top with scrambled eggs.
- Dollop on top of a slow-cooked casserole just before serving.
- Thin with olive oil and use as a salad dressing.
by Mel Duncan