Mint Basil Pesto

6 Jul

I love summer. I mostly love non-humid summers, but I’ll take this New England heat, if I must, for now. My favorite thing about summer is the extended daylight, but coming in at a close second is the near daily opportunity to go to a farmer’s market. I absolutely adore farmer’s markets. Big ones, little ones — anywhere where there are farmers with fresh fruits, vegetables, or vegan baked goods — that’s where I want to be.

My first visit to a farmer’s market was last year in Portland, Oregon. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better initiation to farmer’s markets than the lively and vibrant Portland Farmer’s Market at Portland State University (Saturdays 8:30 to 2!). It was like being in an amusement park. Ok, not really, but I was overwhelmed with excitement and I hadn’t even started cooking for myself yet. I think this is where the revolution began. To be fair, it truly began in California where, as a new vegan and Animal Care Intern at Farm Sanctuary, I had to learn how to feed myself. But the farmer’s market was like a different sort of Eden to me. So many colors, so many smells, so many authentic “Portlanders” (if you know what I mean)! In any case, I could have spent hours there just looking at the plethora of colorful earthly goods, but I gathered my necessities, a bottle of pear cider, and went home.

Well, let me tell you, the farmer’s market I went to last week was no PSU, but it was still — a farmer’s market. And like a kid in a candy store, I couldn’t help myself. I had to have a little of everything. This recipe is something that came of it. As soon as I smelled that fresh basil and mint, I knew something had to be done. Something had to be done and it had to be simple, fresh, delicious, and versatile. Besides, I’ve been wanting to get into canning and preserving for quite some time. I didn’t properly “can” this recipe because I knew I’d be using it all fairly quickly, but if you want to preserve a little bit of the gifts of the summer sun for later on this year, I suggest that you do. It’ll probably last longer than your tan.

Ingredients:
(makes about 1 cup)

2 cups fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
1/4 cup raw almonds
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 – 3 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional, for a “creamier” pesto)

Directions:

In a food processor, finely chop the almonds. Add the remaining ingredients except the olive oil. With the motor running, gradually pour the oil through the feed tube and process the ingredients. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate for later use.

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