This dish is so tasty that you’ll forget you are eating a bunch of leaves blended with nuts.
2 cups packed basil
4 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 pieces garlic
4 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 cup raw almonds
2 Tbs. salt
In an oven toast the almonds at 350° for approximately 10 minutes. While the nuts are getting toasted, in a food processor, blend the garlic until it is finely chopped.
For the next 9 minutes, go ahead and check twitter, tweet @_dark_mark and tell him his TRS Radio podcast research is awful. If you don’t have almonds, then a mix of walnuts, macadamia nuts, and pine nuts are nice substitutes, even sunflower seeds will work.
Next add the basil, olive oil, lemon juice, and almonds to the food processor and blend until have the desired consistency. You will probably need to add more lemon juice, olive oil, or water depending upon the freshness of the basil and your taste preferences. If you are short on basil, go ahead and add some parsley for a classy, fresh breath, touch. You can substitute bottled lemon juice for the fresh stuff, but that is like riding your “A-race” on $100 training wheels and not your $10,000 race wheels: it’ll work, but the result will be slightly disappointing.
This is the point in the article that I tell you that basil is high in Vitamin K – the actual vitamin, not the horse anesthetic – and that will come in handy if you take a spill and want to keep from bleeding out.
This recipe is super basic — as basic as swimming, biking, and running in straight line for hours — so you can mix it up by adding sun-dried tomatoes, freshly ground pepper, or Kalamata olives to the food processor and blend it into the sauce. A great way to top off a pesto pasta or pizza is with fresh halved cherry tomatoes and toasted pine nuts.
If you insist on a “parmesan cheese” topping, don’t freak out like you dropped your salt pills at mile 1 of your bike leg and it’s 100° in the shade, there are options. In a clean and dry food processor, vitamix, or coffee grinder, add 2 Tbs. nutritional yeast, 2 Tbs. toasted seasame seeds, 2 Tbs. toasted walnuts or pine nuts, and 1 tsp. salt. Blend it until it has a powdery texture.
Nutritional yeast does sound horrible and looks even worse, but it adds a familiar cheesy-like flavor and is obviously nutritional because it says so on the bottle. If only the nutritional yeast people had the savvy to hire the same marketing geniuses behind the bovine lactation industry, then it would have a better name.
When you bring this dish to your group ride pot luck, make sure you tell everyone it is dairy free, and say it with enough condescension in your voice that it riles up your buddy from Wisconsin, but not so much that you sound like a total wanker.