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For those nights when you get home hungry, stressed, and impatient, Hangry is here to help. Each Monday, Kendra Vaculin will share quick, exciting meals to rescue anyone who might be anxiously eyeing a box of minute rice.
Today: Who says pesto can't be made with white beans, used as salad dressing, or considered an elixir of life?
Pesto is the herbaceous glue that holds my life together, and I don’t think that’s hyperbolic. If you break open my dumbest days and roughest nights, you’ll find green bits in the crevices where I tried to put things back together with basil. I squeeze lemons on my hangovers and drizzle olive oil into the running food processor that’s drowning out the sound of my bad mood. It’s the perfect cure-all life medication, because it’s endlessly customizable and ideal on anything in your fridge: Combine something green, plus a little garlic, plus a little cheese or nut or whatever you’ve got, then slather on toast or stir it into polenta. Pesto can knock your salad game out of the park or totally rework your Chinese vegetable delivery leftovers.
The satisfaction of pulverizing food stuffs gives way to the very best smell and the brightest, happiest shade of sauce you’ve ever seen. Bad mood: obliterated. Fog: lifted. Pesto: hero once again.
As a test of something vegan, I subbed out my usual pesto creamy-ifier of Parmesan for some white beans, and they were a really stellar substitute. You will need to add salt in a way you maybe haven’t had to with pesto before because of the lack of natural cheese saltiness, but otherwise I didn’t miss the cheese one bit. Of course, I promptly un-veganed this bad boy with a 6-minute egg. But that's just me.
Makes however much salad you want and enough dressing for 4 to 5 servings
For a single serving of salad:
big handful baby kale
2 radishes, thinly sliced into rounds and then halved
For the dressing (makes about 1/2 cup):
cup packed torn basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of a small lemon
1/2 cup cooked white beans (I used navy)
2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Photo by James Ransom