Basil & Hemp Heart Pesto

Everyone loves pesto! It’s so fragrant, fresh and delicious. I always make sure I have a few jars in the cupboard (we sell these organic ones) for those days when we need a meal in a hurry. Pesto pasta has got to be the best ‘fast-fakeaway’ right? And it’s not just for pasta! Pesto is brilliant in a sandwich or wrap, it’s also gorgeous tossed through steamed greens, boiled new potatoes or as a dressing for a hearty bean or lentil salad. Swirl a spoon through some mayo or hummus for the best dip ever!

But, I also love making my own pesto! It’s so easy to do and you can adapt the ingredients to whatever you have on hand. It’s also a brilliant way to avoid food waste as it makes fresh herbs last longer. Don’t chuck those herb stalks either! They are just as delicious as the leaves and blend up into perfect pesto!

Liz x

Ingredients (makes about a 250g jar of pesto)

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 bunch of basil – stalks and all – sub with other fresh herbs or even spinach/kale/rocket…
  • 3 tbsp or so of nutritional yeast (or use any cheese you like)
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon or more to taste (or use a tbsp of my preserved lemon puree recipe here for extra low-food-waste points)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil – enough to blend the ingredients into a loose sauce
  • 8 tbsp or so of hemp hearts (alternatively use any nuts or seeds you have)

Method

  1. Add the ingredients to a blender or food processor and pulse into a loose sauce.
  2. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed with more salt, nutritional yeast, lemon, olive oil etc.
  3. Store in a clean jar in the fridge and use within two weeks.
  4. To make it last longer, top with a little layer of olive oil. You can also freeze the pesto in portions if you won’t use it in the next two weeks.

Spring Risotto

Brr! Spring is here but there are still some pretty chilly spells. Who got that day of blazing sunshine interspersed with freezing hail storms the other day? These erratic-weather days call for a steaming bowl of comforting risotto.

You can’t go wrong with risottos, they are the best way to celebrate and capture the essence of a season. Oozy, umami-rich mushroom risotto is perfect in Autumn, but in Spring I want verdant green colours and bright herby flavours! So here’s my latest creation, an asparagus, courgette and cherry tomato risotto with pesto stirred through just before serving. Light and bright enough to shout ‘Spring!’ But cosy and comforting enough to make you forget about being caught in that hail storm earlier.

Add the ingredients to your next order from Green Earth Organics here. We deliver to every address in Ireland. Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 courgette
  • 3 handfuls of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 mug of risotto rice
  • 1 stock cube
  • 1 bundle of asparagus
  • 1 lemon (zest and juice)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 heaped tbsp pesto
  • toasted nuts/seeds to serve

Method

Dice the celery and courgette and soften in a large pot with the olive oil over a medium-high heat. (You could also add diced onions and garlic for extra flavour).

Halve the cherry tomatoes and add them to the pot along with the mug of rice and stir well.

Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and pop them in the compost bin or in a freezer box to make stock with another time. Then slice off the asparagus tips (a couple of inches from each spear) and put to one side to use at the end. The middle part of the asparagus spears can be sliced into slim rounds and added to the pot now.

Crumble in the stock cube and add a mug of water to the pot. Stir and simmer until the water has been absorbed by the rice.

Add the zest and juice of the lemon and another mug of water. Stir and simmer agin until the liquid has been absorbed. Then add more water, half a mug at a time, until the rice is cooked through but still retains a little bite.

Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Then add the asparagus tips and simmer for just 3 minutes or so until they are just cooked through, bright green and still crunchy.

Just before serving, stir through the nutritional yeast and pesto to add brightness, herby flavour and cheesy richness to the dish.

Serve in warm bowl with toasted nuts/seeds scattered over each bowl. Enjoy under a cosy blanket on the sofa watching your favourite film!

Easter Feasting

Celebrate spring with some bright fresh flavours, have an Easter feast and bake some treats with the kids. There are loads of ideas up on the blog now. Let me point you in the direction of some delicious dishes which will work perfectly this Easter. Liz x

Hot Cross Buns

Homemade hot cross buns are always better! Try my plant based recipe.

Courgette Risotto

My courgette risotto is a celebration of this delicate green vegetable – there are silky soft, slowly simmered pieces and fresh raw ribbons to tantalise your tastebuds. Swirl through some of my low waste salad bag pesto and scatter over some crunchy toasted hazelnuts…heaven!

Devilled ‘Eggs’

After something Easter eggy with out the egg? Try these fun little devilled ‘eggs’ made with quick picked mushrooms and a vibrant yolky chickpea mixture.

Leek and Thyme Tarte Tatin

Leeks are in season now and this sophisticated dish is deceptively simple to make. Find the easy recipe here.

Shortbread Biscuits

Make an egg shaped batch of my easy as 1,2,3 shortbread and have fun decorating. I added the zest of a lemon to the dough and used the juice for icing. Just stir in enough icing sugar to make a thick paste, then split the icing into two bowls and add turmeric to one for a natural food colouring – make chicks, eggs, daffodils, daisies… Allow the icing to harden and set before storing in a biscuit tin.

Flourless Black Bean Chocolate Cake

Prefer your Easter chocolates in the shape of a cake? Why not melt down any unwanted eggs and make this flourless, fudgey cake?

Spring Sunday Roast

Lemon and herb roast veg, spring cabbage, a beetroot and butterbean loaf and gravy. A vibrant roast perfect for Easter Sunday!

Lentil Pie with Colcannon Mash

Forgo the sacrificial lamb and make this hearty lentil pie instead? It’s packed full of flavour and veggies and is a satisfying family friendly meal. Serve with seasonal greens. I always make a big batch and pop one in the freezer for a rainy day.

Raw Carrot Cake

The Easter Bunny’s favourite dessert? Try my raw recipe, it’s delicious!

Courgette Risotto

To me a risotto should elevate a single vegetable. It should celebrate it. Add too many ingredients to your risotto and the flavours will mingle and become indistinguishable in the long simmer. Courgettes are incredibly versatile. Fantastic cooked down low and slow into a silky mush, griddled and seared, battered and deep fried, raw… So for interest and texture in this dish I’ve cut each courgette differently. One diced and simmered with the onions into a meltingly soft sauce, one sliced into rounds for texture and body in the risotto and the last one peeled into raw ribbons to go on top. Serve with a swirl of pesto (try my salad bag pesto here), a drizzle of good olive oil and some toasted hazelnuts. Heaven.

Leave a comment if you tried this recipe or show us your photos on Instagram or our Facebook group. We love seeing your amazing recreations. Liz x


Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 courgettes
  • 1 mug of risotto rice (or however much you like to serve 4)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 stock cube
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp (or more to taste) pesto
  • extra virgin olive oil to serve
  • toasted, chopped hazelnuts to serve

Method

Dice the onion and put it in a wide pan with the butter and oil over a medium high heat. Add a pinch of salt and sauté and soften for around 6 minutes.

Dice the celery sticks, garlic and one of the courgettes and add them to the pan to soften too. Cook, stirring often until soft and golden. Around 10 minutes.

Rinse and add the risotto rice to the pan with the zest and juice of the lemon (or a glass of white wine). Crumble in the stock cube and add a generous grind of black pepper. Stir well to coat the rice in the seasoning then add a mug of warm water.

Slice the second courgette into rounds and add it to the pan. Simmer and stir until all the water has been absorbed then add another mug of water. Keep simmering and stirring.

Meanwhile use a vegetable peeler to slice as many ribbons from the third courgette. Chop up the middle bit and add it to the pan. Keep simmering and stirring and add another mug of water. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, pepper or lemon once the rice started to swell up and become softer.

Once the risotto is cooked (the rice should be soft and creamy but still with a little bite) turn off the heat. Stir through a few tbsp of pesto, pile on the raw courgette ribbons, drizzle everything with extra virgin olive oil and scatter over the toasted hazelnuts.

Take the pan to the table and serve with the jar of pesto handy to add extra swirls through the bowls of anyone who wishes for more.

Salad Bag Pesto

One of the most common ingredients that get wasted are salad leaves. The mixed bags of salad leaves really don’t stay fresh long, really they should be eaten within 3 days. So if you don’t get around to eating a salad, perhaps the weather changed and you were more in the mood for a hot meal, there are a few ways you can use them up in a different way. Whatever you do, don’t throw that bag of slightly sad looking leaves away! Salad leaves can be blended into a soup in place of spinach or watercress or make this very flexible salad bag pesto! If you have any fresh herbs around the place, chuck some of those in too.

Read more about food waste in my blog post on the subject here. Liz x

Ingredients

  • mixed salad leaves (and odds an ends of fresh herbs if available)
  • sunflower and pumpkin seeds (or any nuts or seeds you like)
  • lemons
  • garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • nutritional yeast (or odds and ends of cheese)

Method

I’ve deliberated not given amounts as pesto is a very fluid recipe. You can taste and adjust it as you go. You should aim to have around half the volume of the mixture as nuts or seeds. So if you have about a mug full of salad leaves that need using, toast about half a mug of nuts or seeds.

Toast the nuts or seeds in a dry frying pan to bring out their flavour. Allow them to cool.

The put them in a food processor. I used a blender because my food processor is broken – it works ok but I prefer a food processor for pesto because I don’t want the mixture to be too smooth in the end.

Add a crushed or grated glove of garlic, a shake of nutritional yeast, a big pinch of salt and all the salad leaves.

Then add lemon juice (you can add the zest of the lemon too if you like, or save it in the freezer for something else). Start with a small amount of lemon juice, you can always add more later.

Add a very generous amount of olive oil. A quality extra virgin olive oil is best for pesto.

Pulse the mixture, scrape down the sides and pulse again until you reach a loose, rough paste. Add more olive oil as you go if needed.

Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt of lemon juice as you like. Then store in a clean jar in the fridge. To make it last longer, cover it with a thin layer of olive oil to protect it from the air. Use it up within a week.

Pesto is not just for pasta! Use it for a dip, stir it into hummus or mayo, spread it into wraps or sandwiches, toss it through roasted veg or steamed greens, dollop it on your grainy salads…