Here’s the first essential fact of the day: You can make vegan pesto out of any combination of greens and nuts. I do roughly 4 parts green to one part nuts and one part olive oil. I also usually throw in some nutritional yeast and a garlic clove, but those aren’t even necessary. 4 parts green, 1 part nuts, 1 part olive oil. Seriously. Pesto.
And here’s the second: Beet greens are perfectly good to eat and shouldn’t be thrown away! If you like beets, they are pretty delicious with an ever-so-slight beet flavor. Having said that, they do tend to wilt fairly quickly so it’s good to use them up.
I think you know where I’m going with this….
Beet green pesto! Ding ding ding. I make this quite often because I love beets. So I buy them a lot and feel like I’m getting free greens which makes me extra happy. Plus, pestos are great for preserving extra greens in those summer months when they are everywhere, because they freeze well. So you can whip up a few batches and stick them in the freezer for later.
1/2 cup beet greens
1/2 cup basil (optional – totally fine to just use 1 cup beet greens if you have enough, which I didn’t, or even sub spinach)
1/4 cup walnuts (again, use whatever nuts you have around. I’ve also used cashews with success)
1/4 cup olive oil
Nutritional yeast (optional)
1 garlic clove
There is one extra step involved when using beet greens in particular for your pesto – blanching them. This is only necessary if you want to have a green pesto. The beet greens will turn out a brownish color if you skip the step, resembling an olive paste more than a pesto, but it’ll taste fine.
Unfortunately I have a food blog and that requires pretty pictures so I blanched my greens: Boil a pot of water on the stove. Set a bowl of cold water next to it (use ice in it if you want). When the water comes to a boil dip the greens in and hold them there until wilted. Only needs about a minute. Then take them out and dunk them in the cold water. Dry them off.
Put the nuts, garlic and nutritional yeast (if you’re using it) into the food processor and give them a whirl. (If you don’t have a food processor, I highly recommend investing in one. Look in your local charity store for second-hands ones on the cheap. I found mine in the back of a cupboard in my last apartment in NY when I moved in, left by a previous tenant. True story.)
Then add in the greens and turn it on again, until they are all pretty well pulverized. Then add the olive oil slowly and pulse until it’s all well combined. I like my pesto thick and more paste-y, so if you want to thin it out a bit then blend in another 1/4 cup of olive oil. Taste and adjust.
Pestos can be used in lots of things:
- I love using it in my “All Green, All the Time” pasta, recipe to be posted shortly
- Vegan pizza! Spread the pesto on pizza dough, top with tomato slices and grilled asparagus or whatever takes your fancy, and bake in the oven.
- Breakfast sandwiches – Spread the pesto on a piece of toast. Top with roasted red pepper or tomato slices and a poached egg.
- And so on. If you have any left, just freeze it for another time!
Other Related Notes:
- Check out my Pear, Beet and Walnut Summer Salad recipe, which is what I used the actual beets for!