When I went to California this summer, I was reunited with one of my best friends. She moved to the Bay Area a couple years before I left to France. That means I haven't seen much of her in a long, long time. I've seen V a few times in our home town (a suburb near L.A.) during my summers back home but never at her new place. Luckily, I finally got to visit her in Oakland and was so surprised to see V in her element. I think V has the organic market and recipes down more than I do and her knowledge of local artisan products seriously amazes me. She also has a damn good gem collection. If you wanna know more about Oakland life, check out my post about one of their dreamy farmer's market.
When we stayed over at V and her partner's place, they made us a wonderful dinner from local organic produce. It was mostly a vegan dinner, including this pesto. Cheese is optional... cashew cheese even more encouraged (as it is truly vegan).
I hope V won't mind too much that I'm sharing her recipe on the blog. I've added a little of my own tweaks, but it's mostly her recipe. So thank you V and V's partner!
It was very hard to find some of the same produce that V used in her original recipe. Kale was introduced to France just a few years ago. We don't have too many varieties (or at least I can't find them yet) so I was lucky enough to find any kale at all. It's not really in season here right now, either.
The market has been very empty these past few weeks due to the August vacances (vacation). Most Parisians abandon the city to go to their summer houses or take trips abroad. My vacation is sadly over but I'm enjoying the work I'm doing now. Including feasting on this pesto ;)
Finding the Ingredients
V uses the term "pesto" loosely. It's more of a tapenade made with lots of delicious greens, nuts, seeds, oil, and salt and pepper. You can add a few different spices too... or even a jalapeño. Basil (or basilic) is very easy to come by at any market you go to in France. It's especially fresh at the farmer's market. For the mesclun (a mix of salad with some dandelion greens, arugula, and I'm guessing collard greens?), I found that from my favorite producteur (farmer) from the Marché Bastille as well.
The rest of the ingredients were found at Biocoop, a very popular organic (bio) chain. We also have Naturalia, but I think I prefer Biocoop more (you can buy certain things in bulk, like these almonds). Organic food in France can be a little pricey (just like in the U.S.), but it's definitely worth hitting up these stores if you want something farm fresh (and you missed the morning market!). The recipe calls for hemp seeds (which are called graines de chanvre in French) and raw almonds. I also got my kale at Biocoop.
Making the Pesto
During my trip to Apt, I picked up an amazing marble mortar and pestle. While I'm totally in love with it, it is kinda small. Pesto requires a lot of crushing. Since my mortar is so small, I only decided to crush certain ingredients. It's best to pulverize the hemp seeds and crush the almonds as best as you can. I also crushed up the garlic a little to let the flavors really mingle. I left my food processor for the basil and greens. But let me show off my mortar for a little bit...
Make sure to really pulverize your hemp seeds. In the picture above, it was not quite crushed enough. After you're done crushing, throw everything into a food processor and use the highest setting to mix and blend everything together. I really love this recipe because the hemp seeds and almonds provide a lot of protein and nutrients. The greens boost the basil too. This pesto is a perfect picnic spread or pre-dinner appetizer!
V's Protein-Packed Oakland Pesto
- 2 bunches of fresh basil, leaves removed (about 5 or 6 cups)
- 2-3 medium sized kale leaves (preferrably Russian kale), de-stemmed
- 1 tbsp hemp seeds, crushed
- a small handful of raw almonds, diced and/or crushed
- 3-6 gloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- a handful of dandelion greens (or whatever other greens you prefer)
- 1/2 tbsp paprika
- 1/4 cup cashew cheese (for vegans) or grated Parmesan cheese (non-vegan)
- 4-6 tbsp of good olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- optional: jalapeño or 2/3 tsp of red chili pepper flakes, lemon juice and/or zest
1. Wash all the greens thoroughly: basil, kale, etc. Pluck off all the basil leaves from their branches, de-stem the kale, and mix altogether with the other greens. Set aside.
2. Using a mortar and pestle, separately crush the hemp seeds, almonds, and garlic cloves.
3. In a large food processor, combine all ingredients and blend on your highest setting. Depending on your preference for texture, you can add more olive oil for a smoother pesto. Make sure to scrap the sides of your food professor often, until all ingredients are well mixed.
4. Serve immediately with toast or pasta. If you have any leftovers (Petit Copain almost ate the whole bowl!), store the pesto in the fridge. It should be good for at least one week!
Enjoy! And thank you V!