A Trifecta of Recipes

Vegan Walnut Pesto

3 cups loosely packed, fresh basil
1/3 cup walnuts, dry toasted
2 T nutritional yeast (a.k.a. nooch)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
pinch of salt
pepper to taste

Blend nuts, nooch, garlic, and salt in a food processor. 
Add basil and process again. 
Drizzle in the oil and process one last time. 
Serve with additional olive oil to your desired potency.

Traditional pesto has Parmesan cheese which we do not eat.  The nooch is in substitution for that. It is also know as savory yeast.  It is an inactive yeast, similar to brewer's yeast but not the same, that is cultivated in a nutrient rich medium.  It has a nutty, cheesy flavor and lots of vitamins and minerals, especially favored for its B12 content.  Traditional pesto also contains pine nuts which are just astronomically expensive right now whereas walnuts are not.  So there you have it--vegan, walnut pesto.

We harvested two of our four varieties of basil and kept them separate so we could do a taste test.  Of course we couldn't be in agreement over which was the best.  I thought the Sweet Basil made the better pesto.  Matt thought it was the Genovese.  Both were really, really good though.  I thought the sweet basil was slightly spicier, oddly enough, which I liked.  We're going to harvest lemon basil and lime basil tomorrow.  I am excited to see what that pesto tastes like!

Matt is just excited I'll eat pesto.  I didn't used to.  Once again, growing it myself has made me turn over a new culinary leaf.

Semolina Flour Pasta

2 cups semolina flour
8 T cold water
2 T olive oil

Combine ingredients until you have a rather stiff dough ball.  
Knead for 10 minutes or more until you have a smooth, satin looking ball.  I thought it looked quite like an egg.
Cover and let rest for 10-30 minutes, depending on how hungry you are!
Cut into quarters and roll each quarter out into the desired thickness using either a pasta machine or a rolling pin.
Keep the other quarters covered with a towel while you work with the others.
Cut noodles into desired shapes using either the pasta machine, knife, or pizza cutter.
Boil for two to three minutes.

I've made quite a bit of pasta, but always using just regular white, all-purpose flour.  We picked up a couple bags of Bob's Red Mill semolina flour for $1.50 each at the discount grocer because I'd always been curious how that would be different.  I have to say, I don't know I could go back now.  The semolina dough (which is what almost all standard store-bought pasta is made with) was so much easier to work with and also had a nicer texture to bite into once the pasta was cooked.

"Meaty" Balls (an adaptation from the cookbook Vegan Vittles)

1 cup textured vegetable protein (make sure it is non-GMO because many are not)
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 T Italian seasoning
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4 t dry mustard
2 T sesame seeds

3/4 cup almost-boiling water
2 T ketchup
2 T soy sauce

1/4 cup flour
1 T nutritional yeast (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the first six ingredients in a bowl and toss until well mixed.
Mix ketchup, soy sauce, and water until combined.
Pour the water mixture over the dry ingredients in the bowl and stir well.
Let rest five minutes while the dry ingredients absorb the liquid.
Add peanut butter and mix until well incorporated.
Mix in flour and nutritional yeast, if using.
Form into walnut-sized balls. 
Brush the balls with olive oil and bake for 25-30 minutes

These also make great burgers if pan-fried instead of baked.  We used to eat them all the time before we worried about GMOs.  Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) is cheap!  Cheap!  Since you buy it dry and rehydrate it you get a lot for your money.  However, the bulk TVP at our health food store is GMO so we try to watch out for that and avoid it as much as possible.

We use a silicon cupcake sheet to freeze things, like pesto or peas, into nice, usable portions.  Since it is silicon it is super easy to pop the frozen items out and store them in jars.

We now have pesto to last us well through another year.  Its funny to think how fresh and delicious this pesto will taste come January!


  1. I posted a comment on Matt's new schedule which is not showing. What gives?

    I like your recipes. TVP is not something I would ever eat, but everything looks good. If you find the pesto sticks together during the freezing/thawing cycle of your freezer while it stays frostfree, just put pieces of waxed paper between the pesto circles. That silicone pan looks like something I need for freezing portions.

    1. The comment about chickens? Or something else? I saw that one, but blogger didn't put through any other.

      That silicone pan is a dream for freezing, but its pretty floppy so you have to put a baking sheet under it or risk it spilling all over.

  2. Thanks for reminding me about TVP. I had heard of it years ago, and today I decided to actually try some. Where do you get your organic TVP?

    1. We buy it at the health food store. Its Bob's Red Mill and comes prepackaged. I think Bob's calls it TSP (textured soy protein) instead of TVP, but its the same.

      It is quite handy. The cafeteria at the college where I work uses it to "cut" the hamburger with in certain recipes as both a cost savings and health benefit. They say the students have no idea.

    2. I doubt our local one sells anything but regular TVP, at least they didn't the last time I checked.

      I found the weirdest vegan recipe online, but all of the reviews (99) were favorable. You might want to look it over for vegan BLT's.

    3. That IS weird. Its probably good if one likes bacon, but I never really did. Like steak, seafood, mayo, and eggs (amongst other things I am sure) I just never really cared for them in their animal form so I never really try to make them in a vegan form. I'll have to ask Matt if he'd ever want to try and make bacon. He might. He ate just about everything at one point....except fruit....which he still has trouble with.

      This recipe sort of reminded me of this tofu jerky that we make in that it seems like the sort of thing you'd never be able to recreate with any satisfaction, but I have to say the tofu jerky is astonishingly good so maybe the bacon would be too. Are you going to try it?

    4. I want to, because my son is a very big bacon lover. I am with you--don't like it so much, though a long time ago I used to eat BLT's.

      I would love to be able to offer him this. I will not buy bacon. NO way. But my mother-in-law does buy it for my son. This would be a good alternative and I would be happy to make this for him.

      I looked at the ingredient list and went shopping for them today, but it is really expensive. I may still do it, because I used to like BLT's, and my son would probably like this version.

      I don't know... it just seems to me that when you (if you) give up meat, you just go with the foods and flavors of the foods you are using, rather than trying to recreate some specific texture.

      I have a bean version of a hamburger that I make for myself when the family is eating burgers, and I like it very much, but it doesn't taste like a burger, and I wouldn't expect it to.

      (That's a long ramble, but anyway. :) )

    5. Sometimes I found with health food ingredients they seem terribly expensive, but you don't use the whole thing so it becomes more reasonable if you think about it in individual batches. That is not always the case though. Or maybe substitutions could be made.

      I hope you are able to make them afford-ably and that your son enjoys the heck out of them.

      There are vegan alternatives that I think are shockingly close to the real thing, like soy yogurt and one time I had these buffalo chicken nuggets that meat eaters couldn't believe were vegetable, things like that. But, in general, you hit the nail on the head. Vegan macaroni and cheese isn't going to taste/feel like Kraft. But as long as it tastes GOOD what does that really matter. That's what I always figure. As long as it tastes good.

  3. Delicious! I have been thinking about maybe making our own pasta . . . hmm . . .

    1. I've found it to be surprisingly simple. I want to play around with drying it as I've only used it fresh.

  4. Nice work on the recipes. I recently had a reaction to pine nuts, found they're not all created equally (I'll need to avoid the Asian type): https://pinenutsyndrome.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/the-ones-to-avoid/
    I ALWAYS carry bear spray while hiking in the summer, but have never used it. Did have it hand twice with "bluff" charges. The local murderer is still at large--bummer to worry about something like that. People.

    1. People indeed....

      I suppose I should have, but I never considered that there were different kinds of pine nuts. It makes sense--there are different varieties of just about everything, but I never thought of it.

      I carry my spray and have never used it. I hope it stays that way. But, its a risk worth taking to see all those huckleberries, butterflies, elk, sunrises, rainbows, etc.

  5. This reminded me that Matt was telling me of your surplus of basil, and that he might have some pesto for me...Would make a great gift next time you see me if I do say so myself! Maybe a trade for some more tunes?


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