I ate a lot of tomato based sauces in my college years. I tired of it and avoided it when eating Italian for a while. That’s when I discovered that Italian food and pastas do not always have to be slathered in a tomato sauce. I ate spaghetti with nothing but grated Parmesan cheese from the plastic container and dried oregano and dried basil for years. Moving to Kentucky brought more experiences in having pasta with pesto or lemon butter wine sauces. Then there is the Browned Butter with Mizithra Chesse at The Old Spaghetti Factory. If I can ever have dairy again, that might be my first food outing.
Going dairy-free seemed a bit limiting at first. Then I slowly started to learn how I can make different things that used to have dairy in them either with a dairy-free replacement or without any kind of replacement at all. Mexican foods I just don’t even bother with dairy-free cheeses anymore. I either don’t like the taste and/or smell, or it has casein in it which really doesn’t make it dairy-free in my eyes.
One of the things I decided I needed to conquer was pesto even though I do tomato sauces now. I didn’t want to get tired of tomato sauce again. I love a good pesto and making it is so easy that it can be done while your gluten-free pasta is boiling in salty water. Or you can make a batch or two ahead of time and freeze them in an ice cube tray to keep longer.
Adjust the ingredients to your taste. If you want more garlic, add more garlic. If you want it cheesier, add more nutritional yeast. Just make sure you keep tasting and adjusting.
Dairy-Free Pesto – yield about 1/2 cup
2 cups fresh basil, packed
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup pine nuts or raw walnuts
pinch of salt
Add all ingredients but the olive oil to a food processor. Start the food processor and slowly drizzle the olive oil through the feeder tube. Add as much oil to make the pesto the consistency you want. Some people like theirs thin. I like mine thick. Scrape down the sides of the processor. Taste and adjust ingredients or salt and process again.