It feels like everyone has been baking away during lockdown and I’m missing out on the nations new favourite pastime! I’ve loved seeing the, errr, ‘rise’ in home baking as one of the more heartening responses to the global pandemic. But if you’re trying to juggle working from home, cooped up kids and generally having less physical and mental space, even cooking a simple meal can feel like another chore.
Despite time in the kitchen spent having a toddler frequently attached to my lower limbs, I’ve found carving out a small pocket of time to do something creative goes along way to help me connect with fresh ingredients and what I’m putting into my body. I might not have time to cook an elaborate meal but throwing a few ingredients in a food processor is my kind of creative outlet in these crazy times.
I’m also a little obsessed with beetroot so when I found out that the leaves are part of the dark leafy greens family (who knew!) I was raring to experiment. The leaves are nutrient dense and iron rich like their cousin’s chard or spinach. But are usually removed as it helps them store for longer. Finding beetroot with leaves still intact means they’ve only just been picked.
Turning the leaves into pesto is a great way to use up fresh ingredients that usually get discarded. Pesto, like hummus is one of those things that’s surprisingly easy to make. Get it right and it will taste much better than shop bought stuff.
This recipe is combined with kale but using either leaf on their own would work just as well. It has a milder earthier taste than regular pesto so if you prefer a punchier flavour you could try adding fresh herbs such as basil or parsley. Nutritional yeast is a great vegan substitute for parmesan and high in B12. As sources of this essential vitamin are limited on a vegan diet this is a great way to add it in.
Store in the fridge for a week or it can lasts for months in the freezer. I love serving pesto with brown rice pasta as it’s an easy more healthful alternative to standard white flour pasta. It also tastes great with courgette noodles topped with mushrooms fried in olive oil and garlic.
Kale and Beetroot Leaf Vegan Pesto
- 80 g beetroot and kale leaves
- 40 g cashews
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 2 tbsp nutrional yeast
- 2-3 tbsp water (add to desired consistency)
- 75 ml olive oil
- juice of half or a whole lemon depending on taste
- salt and pepper to season
- In a food processor add the garlic and mince
- Add the rest of the ingredients and blend slowly adding oil as you go along
- Add more oil or water until you reach the desired consistency. You can always add more when cooking
- Add to a frying pan to cook along with cooked vegetables such as courgette noodles
Interested in transitioning to a plant-based diet? Get the beginners guide: