Delicious Basil Pesto (Plus a Dairy-Free Miso Version)

This recipe was originally published in this month’s (October 2009) issue of my monthly nutrition newsletter ‘Elements ~ Healthy Living News’.

During the summer my apartment resembles an Italian herb garden with basil growing in every corner that the sun shines, along with oregano, rosemary, mint and parsley. I get ridiculous joy from watching these plants grow into herbs that will enhance my meals and delight my senses, not just my taste buds, but also the knowing that comes that I had a hand in their care. I get this from my mother whose green thumb is so sturdy she could grow pomegranate’s in Alaska.

Every Autumn, I make loads of Pesto and freeze it in batches that I proceed to use throughout the winter, adding it to soups and stews to enhance their flavor and bring a bit of summer to the frosty nights of winter. I also toss it with brown rice pasta and roasted vegetables (like cauliflower, brussel sprouts or broccoli) for a quick, healthy meal. So far I have made one batch that I have frozen and begun to use and soon I will have to cut down what remains of the basil plants and make the rest. It is a bittersweet moment. I lose my beautiful plants but I get loads more pesto.

Here are two options for you. One is the classic pesto made with parmesan. The other is for those of you who love pesto but are avoiding dairy. It is made with miso paste which gives it added nutritional benefits. Enjoy!

Classic Pesto

  • 4 cups basil
  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup goat’s or sheep’s milk parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic (or to desired flavor)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • A pinch of salt or to desired taste

Miso Pesto (for dairy free version)

* Same as above except substitute mild, white miso paste for parmesan and add an additional clove of garlic, if desired.

Add a bit of each ingredient to a food processor and in batches process until smooth. Place in a bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly blended. Place in 4 to 6 ounce plastic containers and freeze. Add to soups and stews or toss with brown rice pasta.