Day 2: The Quest Continues for Vegan Food that Doesn’t Suck

The knights and explorers took up all the really good ideas, so I’m left with a less heroic, admitedly, much less cool quest to seek out and create vegan food that actually tastes good, doesn’t use “mock” foods like “cheeze”, “chikin”, or the like, and, above all else can be so satisfying that I don’t miss my beloved meat and cheese.  Day one was a great success, foodwise, and day two seems to be a winner as well.

I was confronted with a new challenge today.  What’s for lunch?  In my search for all things good in the veg world, I decided that a good route would be to create various sauces and spreads to change up the flavor in dishes vegetable dishes I enjoy.  My thinking quickly went down the trail of pesto.  Now, I have read disgruntled food snobs emphatically declare that pesto is not pesto without parmesan.  Frankly, I could care less about their opinion.  I’m not going for authenticity.  I just want some flavor, man! 

Most of my searching turned up pine nuts as the most common pesto staple, but when I got to the store, I discovered that the bulk pine nuts were $32 per pound.  Next!  Ever the matron of all things frugal, I opted for the $2 sunflower seeds.  I bought a big tub of basil for $5, which I thought was a good deal, and set off for home armed with the necessary tools to make a delicious spread.  Here’s what I came up with:

Annie’s No Parm Sunflower Seed Pesto

4 cups basil leaves

1 cup olive oil

1 cup hulled sunflower seeds

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp salt, or to taste

½ tsp pepper, or to taste

¼ cup chopped pepperoncini’s

 Pulse ingredients together until smooth, slowly adding olive oil until emulsified.  Season to taste.  Serve on toasted focaccia, or use as a spread in a pita. To retard the basil’s browning process, add a layer of olive oil on top of the mixture.

This made enough to fill two Ziploc sandwich bags.  I froze one and ate off of the other for two weeks.  This is definitely a keeper.  Any time I’m hungry, this is my go to snack.  My favorite way to eat it is to cut 1/3 of a  loaf of focaccia then slice it in half so that it opens up for a sandwich.  I spread pesto on both sides, sprinkle a little salt, then layer pepperoncinis and sliced tomato and broil for a few minutes until the olive oil melts away and seeps into the air pockets and the bread starts getting crispy on the edges.  It’s also great used the same way, though not toasted, in a whole wheat pita.  I’m sure it would be great with spinach as well, but I haven’t had any on hand to try it.  Let me know what you think!


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