i wouldn't say i'm a vegan. no, i wouldn't say that. i can safely say i'm a 90% vegetarian at this point, save for the occasional grass-fed local beef. but i wouldn't say i'm a vegan. no, i definitely wouldn't say that. and here's the reason why i am not a vegan:
i love cheese. i love every drippy, oozy ounce of cheese that exists in this sweet world of ours. the stinkier, the better. be it from a goat, a sheep, or from a cow, i love it. my idea of a perfect dinner for one is a baguette from rustica bakery, a hunk of cheese from the cheese mongers at surdyk's, and a bottle of red wine.
okay, well maybe not the whole bottle. i'm not 27 anymore. and maybe not the whole baguette, because there are those pesky 20 lbs hanging out around here...
and so. i cannot be a vegan because i cannot live in a world without cheese. however, i've been cooking a bit more vegan lately by experimenting with different egg replacers in baked goods (did you know that if you add flax meal to water in a ratio of 1:2, it becomes this disgusting substance almost totally resembling an egg?! far out!), and using various nuts instead of cheeses in certain recipes. i've stumbled upon a few lovely blogs of late along the vegan vein. but when it comes to italian cooking, i simply must have two things: prosciutto, in copious amounts, and good, hard cheese. so although the below recipe was inspired by a vegan version i stumbled upon at oh she glows, it is sadly not vegan, but instead, loaded with parmesan cheese.
recipe: not quite vegan pesto
you will need:
a food processor
3 palmfuls of raw, unsalted cashews *
3-4 gloves of garlic
2 cups of fresh basil leaves
2 handfuls of fresh spinach
1 cup of shredded parmigiano-reggiano
juice of 1 or 2 lemons
good flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
* note on cashews - these b*tches are expensive. i found cashews in bulk for a decent price at my co-op a few weeks ago and loaded up. i allow myself these occasional splurges because we save a lot of money in our household by not eating meat every night of the week. you could substitute raw, unsalted walnuts and it would most likely have the same effect. i haven't tried it, but i trust you.
alright! here we go! get out your food processor, dust it off, and get it ready for whirrring.
throw your cashews in there and let 'er rip. ground them up pretty good, but don't make nut butter. we're making pesto here, not dessert.
now add your garlic cloves and pulse 6-7 times to chop them up along with the cashews.
toss in the basil, spinach, and cheese and turn on the processor. whilst whirrring, drizzle in about 1 cup of the olive oil until the pesto comes to a nice pasty consistency. now turn off your magic machine and throw that lemon juice in there. i'd start with the juice of one lemon, and give it a taste. personally, i like my pesto's a little tangy, with just a bit of bite, so i used the juice of two lemons. but one may be enough for you, and that's just fine.
at this point, you're probably done with your food processor and can scrape the pesto out of the processor bowl and into a larger mixing bowl. taste the pesto and add salt and pepper to taste, more lemon juice, and more olive oil if it's too pasty or thick. stir to combine.
and that's it. bam! pesto! this'll keep in your fridge for about a week, or you can freeze it in smaller portions for a comforting meal come the dead of winter.
speaking of the dead of winter, i have my tiny little heart set on running my first ever half marathon in arizona in january, 2012 with my best friend shannon. my plans for running the minneapolis 13.1 were thwarted by my stress fracture earlier this summer. but the good news is that i saw another doctor today who recommended some orthotic inserts that should help correct my gigantic monkey feet from over-pronating to the point of inducing stress fractures. this doctor seemed hopeful for my future as a runner. and so am i.