Necessity is the mother of invention. So when Parmigiano-Reggiano is a necessity but it costs $11 for a tiny wedge, what do you do? Curse Koreans for their under-appreciation of cheese? Yes. Find an alternative that tastes just as good in a pesto dish without breaking the bank? Of course!
Pesto by nature is deceivingly decadent. It tastes rich but is packed with healthy fresh greens, nuts, garlic and olive oil. The cheese, however, is a key ingredient. If you eliminate it for the sake of being vegan (or saving money if you live in Asia), it’s like whoopiddy-do. You’ve accomplished one goal, but you’ve also lost the flavor. So follow me here. If you use what’s meant to actually be a ricotta cheese substitute in this pesto recipe, you’ll gain back that creamy richness you would have otherwise gone without.
Personally, I love buckwheat noodles. They’re buttery-tasting and cook very quickly. But any pasta noodle would be great with this hearty dish.
Recipe, in food processor:
1 clove garlic
*Pulse to eliminate chunks
1/2 cup walnuts (or traditional pine nuts)
3-4 large bunches fresh greens, like baby spinach or bok choy
Add this ricotta substitute:
2 tbsp. tofu
juice of 1/2 lemon
sprinkle of dried Italian herbs, like oregano, basil, or mixed blend
generous swirl of olive oil to coat pesto mixture
salt & pepper
*Run food processor continuously until mixture is smooth and looks creamy and green throughout. Toss with pasta of choice. If buckwheat noodles are too sticky, add more olive oil to your liking. Dress each dish with a little extra lemon juice, lemon zest, or fresh or dried herbs.