How to cook your way through veganuary

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Simple, classic and packing a punch, the humble pesto is a tasty and diverse gateway into flirting with veganism. The term pesto comes from the Italian verb ‘pestare’ which translates to ‘to crush or pound’, This means that there is no rule book when it comes to experimentation of flavours and pairing of raw natural ingredients.

With earthy leaves as its base, I am instantly drawn back to a recent foraging excursion with Totally Wild UK.

Here, I was introduced to an array of wild plants most vividly, fermented Nettle Leaf. Upon returning, I began experimenting with fermented pesto which led me to the Nettle & Pinenut recipe. The almost umami taste adds longevity to the flavour and a powerful salty punch. 

The method is very simple for all three recipes. You will need a pestle & mortar or a food processor. Firstly, peel the garlic and pound with a little sea salt.  Roughly chop the leaves, add to the garlic and pound to a paste (or pulse in a food processor). Add the remaining ingredients and pound (I like the nuts to be a little chunky).  Drizzle in just enough olive oil to combine the sauce then season to taste! 

Although most pesto is made using parmesan cheese there are a number of decent vegan parmesans out there, which can be substituted with a pretty mean result. 


Nettle & Pinenut Pesto

3 large handfuls nettle leaf, blanched and chopped

½ tsp fermented nettle leaf (optional)

3 garlic cloves, roasted

2 tbsp vegan parmesan, grated

2 tbsp pinenuts, roasted

100ml olive oil

Salt

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Radish top and walnut pesto           

115g radish tops, washed

30g walnuts, roasted

50g vegan parmesan, grated

1 clove garlic, roasted

Squeeze of lemon juice

½ tsp capers

150ml olive oil

 

  Sunflower & Coriander Pesto

30g fresh coriander leaves

50g sunflower seeds

2 large garlic cloves, peeled

4 tbsp olive oil

Squeeze of lemon juice

salt/pepper

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