Presto Pesto

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The saying about only appreciating things when you don’t have them – so true.

When we moved to India, one of the biggest problems for me was getting used to the fact that lots of the fresh products I was used to getting in Singapore were just not available widely here. I mean, you can still get things like raspberries, blueberries, avocados and asparagus but you have to go to specialty ‘gourmet’ stores and they’re extremely overpriced. Things I had taken for granted like basil, I now relished.

But now that we’ve moved into our own house we have lots of fresh produce growing in our own garden! We have spinach, methi (fenugreek), basil, mini oranges…  So you would think that now I have an almost endless supply of fresh basil I would be using it 24/7. Right?

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But yeah… not so much. Since we’ve moved into the house (5 months) I think I’ve used basil approximately… 3 times. And in that time we have probably gone through 10-12 jars of store bought pesto. I know, I know. Disgraceful.

It’s just that the whole process seems like so much work. It’s easier to just buy a ready made jar and not think about it. But when I went out one day and saw that the basil plant was slowly drying up I decided it was time to change.

And I’m so glad I did! Making pesto is so easy – it takes practically 15 minutes and most of that time is spent getting the pesto out of the food processor! When you make your own pesto, you can alter the flavors to your liking and experiment with different nuts and even add in other herbs. Also the taste of fresh pesto exceeds store bought by a landslide!

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So no further ado.. here’s an amazing, customizable, pesto recipe inspired by love and lemons.

How to customize:

I always use 2/3 basil + 1/3 coriander because otherwise the basil flavor is a bit too strong, but feel free to use all basil or experiment with addition of other herbs like mint or arugula

For the nuts I used a combination of walnuts and almonds, but you can use any nuts – pistachios, hazelnuts, pecans.. Pine nuts are generally the best for pesto but I didn’t have any on hand 🙂

Add in some grated parmesan cheese, some nutritional yeast or a dash of balsamic vinegar for some extra kick. Most recipes also use black pepper but I prefer the taste without it. It’s a personal opinion though so if you like it – go for it!

Basil Pesto

(Makes around 1 cup)

  • 1 1/2 cup herbs
  • 1/4 cup nuts
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and paprika/chili flakes
  1. Lightly toast the nuts in a small plan until lightly browned
  2. Add all the ingredients in a food processor until well blended
  3. Taste and adjust the salt or acidity if necessary. If too sour, add a splash of honey or agave syrup.

Enjoy!

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Lentil Millet Vegetable Stew

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This is a take on indian ‘khichdi’, a simple traditional stew made with lentils, rice and vegetables. I used millet instead of rice and added some masala to brighten it up.

It’s a one pot meal – all the veggies, lentils and grains are dropped into a pressure cooker with some ghee and spices and voila, in twenty minutes you have a complete meal.

It’s already vegetarian but if you use oil instead of ghee and omit the yogurt topping, it’s vegan!

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This dish is a nutrition power house!  Protein rich from the lentils and millet, high in fibre, full of vitamins and minerals! Millet is one of the best sources of copper and manganese, while the ginger and yogurt aide digestion.

Did I mention it’s creamy, comforting and delicious?

mhm.

I have used carrots and bottle gourd (an indian vegetable) this time, but most vegetables work really well in this type of stew or khichdi. Use whatever produce you have at home – Zucchini, Spinach, Kale, Beans etc. would all be fine. Just keep in mind some vegetables like greens decrease a lot in volume when cooked so you would need to use more of them to start with. If you don’t have millet feel free to use rice.

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Lentil Millet Vegetable Stew

(Makes 1 large serving, just multiply the ingredients to make more)

Ingredients:

  • ~1.5 – 2 cup vegetables diced
  • 1/4 cup lentils (I used green split mung – mung (gram) lentils work best)
  • 1/4 cup millet
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1.5 tsp ghee/oil
  • 1 tsp curry powder (can substitute with indian spices of choice like cumin, coriander or turmeric powder)
  • salt to taste
  • plain yogurt + coriander/cilantro to top (optional)
  1. Wash the millet and lentils
  2. In a pressure cooker turn on medium heat and add the ghee or oil
  3. When the ghee/oil becomes hot, add in the diced onion and sautee until browned
  4. Add in the vegetables, ginger, spices, millet and lentils.
  5. Add ~2.5 cups of water
  6. Put on the lid and cook for around 20 minutes
  7. Release the pressure and remove the lid
  8. Serve and if you wish, top with yogurt and herbs