Real Food Ingredients, Foraging, Adapting Recipes
The other day I was craving pesto and made this. I didn’t have any olive oil, no pine nuts, no Parmesan cheese or any other sort of cheese and very little basil. This tasted great and no one noticed it wasn’t “proper” pesto,
With the scarcity and even unavailability of ingredients, not going regularly to the shops means we have to adapt recipes. When we cook from scratch and forage we can use fresher ingredients, which are just wonderful. We find we are thinking about our food more it makes haking healthier decisions naturally easier.
Use What You’ve Got
I am not going to give precise ingredients because if you are short of an ingredient just make it up with something else. If you have a bit extra left over just bung it in and use it up. It makes cooking quicker than all that faffing around with measuring and weighing and means it is easier to make the right amount for the appetites you are feeding.
No Basil? Be adaptable with the Green Herbs
This time I had just a few basil leaves left on a plant from the supermarket, which was nowhere near enough. I often use ordinary Wild Garlic and/or Stinging Nettles which are always are to hand, and any remains of suitable bunches of other fresh herbs.
Wild Garlic or Three Cornered Leek
For the green part of the pesto this time I used another wild member of the onion-garlic family, Three Cornered Leek. That’s what I have growing here and it’s closer than going down to the river for the more conventional Wild Garlic.This pretty little plant is called Allium triquetrum, it tastes like a lightly garlicky leek or spring onion. Most people hate it in gardens because it grows like a weed. I love it for that very reason and it’s edible. It is green for ages in the spring and has delightful flowers. It is one of the few perennial vegetables and it carries on growing brilliantly however bad a gardener you are.
No Extra Virgin Olive Oi? Flax Farm Cold-pressed Linseed (Flaxseed) Oil makes a Great Alternative
Linseed oil instead of olive oil is a simple substitution. Unlike Olive oil, linseed oil is a great source of omega-3 for the whole family. Its light flavour is popular with everyone and is particularly good with the ingredients in pesto.
No Parmesan Cheese? Nutritional Yeast flakes are the Answer.
Nutritional Yeast is one of the least known, healthiest foods on the planet. It is brim full of B vitamins and contains no saturated fats. It is relatively high in fibre and protein. Nutritional yeast tastes a lot like Parmesan cheese but without the salt; it’s dairy-free and totally vegan. If I am using nutritional yeast I put a squeeze of lemon to taste, not sure why but it works.
Pine Nuts? Try Any Other Nut, Sunflower or Pumpkin Seeds
Pine nuts are one of those ingredients it is always hard to have in the cupboard for when you need them. Using mixed nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts or brazil nuts all work fine. If you can’t eat nuts or haven’t got any try sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. The end result with all of them will be slightly different but great.
Quantities and equipment
Go by handfuls and gauge quantities by what works in your blender. I use a mini blender which I think is designed for making baby food. It makes a good four-person helping of pesto.