EASY VEGAN ARUGULA PESTO
I think winter hibernation has officially hit me, because not only am I finding immense pleasure in organizing every inch of my flat (or rather my mum’s flat as I’m in Düsseldorf right now - poor mum, I’m driving her mad), but I’m also feeling the need to make large batches of food, as if I’m stocking up for those grey January days when you really don’t want to leave the house - just like today in fact.
I miss sunny Ibiza, but I’m also rather enjoying the cocooning. Hot bubble baths, candle light, family…
AND DELICIOUS, HOMEMADE COMFORT FOOD.
My latest obsession is this VEGAN ARUGULA PESTO - bursting with flavour and simply the healthiest fast food ever. Knowing that there’s still a portion of pesto waiting for me in the fridge when I get home late… Ooh so good!
When you have a tasty sauce like this already prepared, all you need are a few basic elements (veggies, grains, maybe some eggs) and you’re done.
So let’s make a healthy plate of goodness…
Pesto with zoodles or red lentil pasta for a quick and protein-rich meal.
Pesto with rice, buckwheat or quinoa for a savoury buddha bowl.
Pesto on toasted sourdough bread for those late night munchies.
Pesto with roasted sweet potato for an extra punch of flavour.
You get the idea, anything goes.
I threw this vegan pesto together a few weeks ago when I had some arugula left in the fridge that I didn’t fancy eating as a salad. It’s winter and my body is not exactly screaming for raw food.
Since then I seem to have mastered the art of pesto making, it’s just so damn delicious. There are no fancy ingredients, just real honest food full of flavour.
And it’s super healthy too:
Arugula (aka rucola or rocket salad) is a nutrient-dense food high in fiber, chlorophyll, phytochemicals and several vital nutrients - including calcium, potassium, folate, vitamin C, A and K. As part of the cruciferous veggie tribe it provides many of the same health benefits as other vegetables of the same family (like broccoli, kale, cauliflower and brussels sprouts). And most importantly:
That crispy, bitter taste of arugula. Oh so good!
Traditionally pesto is made with walnuts or pine nuts but I actually used organic sunflower seeds as they were all I had left in the kitchen. Sunflower seeds are dead cheap and work really well, especially if pre-soaked.
The recipe below makes one small jar (approximately 180g). I store my pesto in the fridge for up to three days. If you’re not planning to use it within that time, just freeze half of it and your pesto will be waiting for you, ready to be devoured.
NOURISHING, TASTY FOOD.
EASY VEGAN ARUGULA PESTO
2 handfuls of fresh arugula (approximately 80g), washed and dried
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (usually about half a lemon)
2 to 3 cloves garlic, to taste
3 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds, pre-soaked
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
Ideally you’d want to soak the sunflower seeds overnight. But if your pesto is a last minute decision then place your seeds in a cup, pour boiling hot water over them, cover, and let it sit for an hour or so. This way the seeds will become soft, giving your pesto a creamy yet crunchy texture.
When the seeds are ready, combine all of the ingredients in a small food processor and blend until everything is broken down into a smooth consistency. If you need more liquid either add more olive oil or water.
With fresh ingredients the taste will always vary a little, so I usually end up adding an extra splash of lemon juice or a little more salt and pepper to make it taste “just right.”
And also, I think it should be noted that I love a spicy punch of garlic, so 3 cloves are perfect for me. However, if you’re not the biggest garlic fan, you might only want to start with 1 or 2 cloves and add more to taste.
That is the beauty of homemade pesto, you can always taste as you go and have it exactly as you please.
Because the ingredients are so fresh, I recommend keeping this pesto stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Use it within 3 days for best flavour.
Instead of sunflower seeds you can use walnuts, pine nuts, almonds or cashews. Pre-soaked is always best.
If you worry about too much olive oil, you can use a little less and add some mineral water instead.