Friday, September 14, 2012

Mint, Parsley and Basil Pesto (Garlic & Peanut free)

And today on, "We've Got a Back Log of Recipes Because We Were Moving and Didn't Have Time to Post" we'll be sharing our recipe for a great garlic free alternative to traditional pesto. 

One of the big things I've missed since my son was diagnosed with his garlic allergy was diving into a bowl of pasta with pesto sauce.  I didn't eat pesto constantly or anything, but it was always a nice change of pace to just pasta with tomato sauce.  But, I was out and out worried about making pasta with regular pesto on it for myself.  See, while my son won't touch any pasta type of dish with tomato sauce on it (which REALLY irritates the mother unit when she spends 65.00 on tomatoes and an entire day making tomato based sauces and then the child won't touch all the sauces, nor the food she spent and spends a good amount of time making), I wasn't sure about the pesto pasta as he used to grab pesto covered pasta off of my plate and eat it.  While some foods with garlic in them I'll let slip and let him eat some of once in a while (trust me when your child won't eat and you know a food allergy won't kill does get to that point once in a while) a dish that focuses on garlic in it and where garlic was an essential flavor wasn't something I was comfortable with.

The bright side to the pesto dilemma, I found, was that pesto?  Is nose bleed SIMPLE to make.  All you need is a food processor, some fresh herbs, some nuts, some oil and some creativity and you can create a pesto.  Now, that doesn't mean that pestos will taste good if you just throw all of that into a food processor and combine them together though (I learned that very quickly), but if you can find the right balance, it's amazing what you can come up with.

So, I started trying to come up with a garlic free pasta that tasted...well GOOD.  The problem with pesto is that it sort of depends on garlic as a flavor, so it was hard to try and find something that would work and create a flavor where you didn't MISS the garlic.  So, I started with traditional ingredients and then started expanding from there.  Sometimes I went out and out crazy (radishes do not make a good substitute for garlic in pesto by the way...don't ask).  But, nothing really seemed to come together and work right.
Then, I remembered an old recipe for pesto that I'd read on one of the food recipe sites one day (I THINK it was Food Network, but darned if I can remember for sure) and the recipe had called for vinegar to be added to a pesto to super charge the flavors.  And when I did that to this pesto it worked!  The missing recipe link achieved!

So, here you go all you garlic allergy fighters out there!  A garlic free pesto that tastes good enough you won't miss the garlic :).

Just a note, this recipe calls for Parmesan cheese to be added.  If you can't do dairy I'd go with nutritional yeast instead or whatever cheese alternative you like.  If you can do dairy, but not cow dairy, try a hard sheep's cheese grated fine.  The "cheesy" flavor really does add a bit of something to the recipe, so I don't think I'd omit the layer of flavor completely if you can avoid it).


Mint, Parsley and Basil Pesto (Garlic and Peanut Free)
1 Cup Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley
1/4 Cup Fresh Mint Leaves
4 Large Fresh Basil Leaves
1 Shallot, peeled and chopped into quarters
1/2 tsp ground Coriander
1 Tsp to 1 1/4 tsp. ground Cumin
(depending how much you like Cumin)
1/4 tsp. salt (preferably sea salt)
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/3 cup Olive Oil + extra if needed
1 TBS grated Parmesan cheese or to taste
(substitute nutritional yeast if dairy intolerant)
1 TBS Red Wine Vinegar (plus extra if needed)
1/2 Cup Whole Unflavored Blue Diamond Almonds (if you want to use slivered almonds just use 1/4 cup), pine nuts, or your nut of choice.
1.  Take all items, place in a food processor and hit the pulse button until fully combined.  If the pesto doesn't come together (you'll see chunks of food that just seem to stick to the sides of the food processor instead of coming together and looking like...well pesto) just add olive oil a LITTLE bit at a time until it all comes together to a pesto consistency (it should still be somewhat thick, but not like a solid clump or anything). 

2.  Taste and adjust your salt, pepper and your vinegar to taste.
Now this recipe adapts to different tasks well and I mess with the recipe quite a bit.  I add a bit of extra vinegar on occasion, for instance, depending on what I'm making.  On pasta I leave it alone, but if I'm going to use it as a sauce to coat a steak or something I like the extra tang in there, so I add a little splash extra.

Here's the great part about pesto too.  Just mess with it.  If you don't like cumin in it, try something else.  I've even been known to add cardamom to the pesto if I'm making a curry based meat and put it on pasta to compliment the flavors a bit.  I even added some avocado to it one night to add to tacos (had some left over) and it made a passable alternative to guacamole (hey taking DayQuil will do interesting things to your thinking processes what can I say?).  Pesto is definitely something cool to get your culinary feet wet with and it's very forgiving.

Just as a side note: I'd like to thank the multitudes of herb plants that died in the making of this recipe as it developed (and there were many) and my husband has my eternal gratitude for eating a LOT of different pestos so that I could find the "right one" to make.


Anonymous said...

This looks great! Thanks for posting'll save me a lot of time and hassle.

Anonymous said...

This looks great! Thanks for posting'll save me a lot of time and hassle.