Chickweed Pesto

Regardless of anyone’s dietary motivations, the healthiest lifestyle is the one that’s most compassionate.
— Steve-O

The truthest of truths from none other than Steve-O. Yep, you read that right. Anyway, another truth? Whoever came up with pesto is a god. This is a fact. Whoever first decided to make it with chickweed...also a god.  

Produce On Parade - Chickweed Pesto
Produce On Parade - Chickweed Pesto

Forget everything you know about pesto. You don't know jack unless you've made pesto with chickweed pulled from the earth yourself. It sounds harsh, but this is absolute. When I'm picking the chickweed, Basil comes crawling over like, "What about me? You're forgetting me!" and I'm all, "Get outta the way, Basil, geesh. I don't need you! I don't want you." You might be asking, "Why chickweed?" That's so weird, it's...a weed! Yes I know, but I will seriously be cultivating it henceforth my friends. Here's Bob, cultivating chickweed with me. Or maybe he's just laying there watching me...

Produce On Parade - Chickweed Pesto

Chickweed pesto is the best thing I've ever had in my entire life. This is not a joke or an over inflation. It would absolutely be my last meal on Earth. I dreamt about it last night. I've been in complete distress about what to do when winter hits and I no longer have access to the weedy greens. Is there a chickweed farm somewhere on this planet? Can I buy it and have it shipped to me? These are questions that surely need answering if I am to calm myself of my pesto craze before the snow flies. 

I made it again the other night and literally hid the evidence so my brother wouldn't find out and eat it all. He's a man obsessed too. It's all he talks about now. Unfortunately, he asked what I had for dinner and I couldn't lie because you know I am the world's worst liar. You guys, the boy flung off his shoes and ran to the kitchen...where he proceeded to eat my beloved chickweed pesto.

Produce On Parade - Chickweed Pesto

There is something so incredibly earthy about this pesto. Here's the best way I can describe it. Okay, so you know when you buy the seriously horrendous pre-ground nutmeg in those little spice bottles at the supermarket? Make it the value brand too. Okay, now remember the first time you tried freshly ground nutmeg? From an actual little nutmeg pod (who knew right)? All other pestos = value brand pre-ground nutmeg. Chickweed pesto = nutmeg freshly ground by the divine hands of Santa Marta (patron saint of cooks). Yep, that's about all you need to know. Also, if you've never had freshly ground nutmeg....OH MY GOD, stop buying the pre-ground stuff already. I know, I know, I've totally been there but if there's one spice you must, must, must grind yourself surely it is nutmeg. Everyone knows that, I'm not just being bossy. I swear. Okay, maybe a little bit. Sorry.

So gracefully make your way, nay, run outside and gather up all the goddamn chickweed you can people! You'll need less than you think. Four cups is essentially four handfuls. Find it wherever you can. Your neighbors will love your for weeding their garden, no need to even ask. It likes to grow in moist soil and/or shady areas, especially places that have been tilled, like gardens (according to my Dad). I harvest it from a part of my yard that was tore up by tire tracks this spring (not by me). 

Produce On Parade - Chickweed Pesto

And now, because I feel I must...please make sure you know what you are harvesting. If you're unsure, don't be a dolt and eat it (like me). Here's a link to all things chickweed. Also, be sure to wash it real good...erm...especially if you have furry animals around. 

Full disclosure: You may hate this. Wait, wait! Only if you're pretty indifferent to pesto to begin with (like Todd). Then don't even go here, this is some hardcore pesto. Todd told me it tasted like a freshly cut lawn and he's weirded out by the fact that I got it from the yard. He's wrong though, don't listen to his lies. It's heaven on Earth. 

Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts lend a softer richness than the usual pinenuts. Plus, you won't go broke making this pesto. Miso and soy sauce are added for complexity and really bring this pesto to the next level with a boost of umami flavor! 

Chickweed Pesto

Makes about 4 cups

Notes: This makes a lot of pesto so if you feel so inclined, cut the recipe in half. But I recommend just freezing the leftovers for use later. Feel free to use whatever combination of nuts you like here. 

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chickweed, washed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 3 fresh garlic cloves, peeled 
  • 1 Tbsp. miso paste
  • 1 Tbsp. liquid amino acids (or soy sauce)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • dash of ground black pepper

Instructions

Combine everything in a food processor and process a few minutes, until smooth. Mix into hot, cooked pasta! Or stir into quinoa, millet, couscous or stuff it into mushrooms! 

Produce On Parade - Chickweed Pesto
Produce On Parade - Chickweed Pesto

German Word of The Day

Chickweed --> Vogelmiere (fogel-meer) - Vogel means bird! 

Good Deed of The Day

Did you there's a tiger named Tony who's been enslaved as a truck stop attraction for the past 10 years, where he's confined to a 3,200 square foot cage? WTF, right?! Let's try and not be the armpit stubble of the world and allow this to continue. 

Strawberry Basil Jam or Sauce

Wondering what to do with one pound of sad strawberries and a bunch of basil that's seen better days? Don't throw it away! Make this jam. Of course, I'd prefer if you used, errrr, fresher ingredients. But hey, I do what I can with what I have...and what I have had was some less than stellar produce awaiting judgement day in the fridge. Except the basil. Never put fresh basil in the fridge.  Strawberry Basil Jam or Sauce I love strawberry jam. However, we never have any on hand. I buy that Kirkland signature strawberry puree from Costco that's totally amazeballs. Yet, I eat it all up too quick.  Like freakishly quick, and it's a massive jar. Anyway, Costco is about an hour away so we don't go on a regular basis. In addition, I flat out refuse to buy any jam at the regular grocery store because, well, to put it lightly...I'm a jam snob.

Growing up, my grandparents had a hugely vast vegetable & fruit farm garden full of fresh currents, rows upon rows of an assortment of raspberries, and gobs of plump strawberries. Believe me when I tell you, and this is very important...there is nothing like the taste of a freshly picked strawberry from a real ass garden. You don't know life if you haven't had one, so if that's the case get yourself to a U-Pick farm. Right now! There's no time to waste! Anywho, we used to make oodles upon oodles upon oodles of perfect jam with these home grown berries. And that's why I'm a jam snob. I'm ruined, essentially. 

I tried to make chia seed jam not too long ago (while in a state of panic due to our lack of jam). I didn't post the recipe because...I did not enjoy it. It had an odd texture (surprise!) and it wasn't sweet enough and it was just a plain insult to jams everywhere. It's still in my fridge and is made with Alaskan-mountain blueberries picked by yours truly last fall. It's all yours. So gross. 

I've been talking a lot about jam. This is because I simply refuse to acknowledge the existence of jelly. OMG, don't even get me started on that crap. Preserves, yeah, they're okay but I don't like my jam chunky, you know? But, live and let live. So, jam it is for me. NEVER JELLY.

Strawberry Basil Jam or Sauce

If you're try to impress someone or just up your jam game, this is the one for you. It's a delicious, no-canning necessary strawberry jam infused with fresh basil, vanilla and cinnamon. I couldn't stop licking the spoon. 

Strawberry Basil Jam or Sauce

Makes about 8 oz. 

Notes: For more of a sauce, blend the strawberry mixture until smooth. If you'd like more of a jam, blend less. 

  • 1 lb. strawberries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup vegan sugar
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped and packed
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 

In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients over low heat. Produce On Parade - Strawberry Basil Jam or Sauce Continuously stir until the sugar has dissolved and it looks like the strawberries are floating in water.  Strawberry Basil Jam or Sauce   Remove from heat and transfer to a blender. Blend until smooth for a sauce-like consistency or leave a bit chunky for a more jam-like texture. Strawberry Basil Jam or Sauce Transfer back to the pan and over high heat, stir continuously until it reaches the mixture reaches 220 degrees (about 5 minutes). Once it's reached 220 degrees, stir continuously for another 5 minutes. Strawberry Basil Jam or Sauce If you don't have a candy thermometer, that's okay. Once the mixture is transferred from the blender back to the pot, it should cook on high from start to finish for about 10 minutes total.  Pour into a jar and allow to rest at least 15 minutes before covering and placing in the fridge to chill. Chill overnight. Store in the fridge and consume within one week.  Strawberry Basil Jam or SauceOh, that's what I'm talking about.  Strawberry Basil Jam or SauceYes, I always match my nails to my jam. Also, there was a little bit that didn't fit in the jar...and...well, I ate it all. Straight up. Treat yo' self! Strawberry Basil Jam or Sauce[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/29271982" params="color=73a89a&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_artwork=true" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

German Word of The Day: Jam --> Marmelade (pronounced: marma-lawd-eh) I know about orange marmalade, but who knew?!

Good Deed of The Day: All I have to say is WTF. Please sign this petition to stop a live bull from being set on fire for the entertainment of people. Grotesque animal cruelty shouldn't be tolerated, regardless of any culture it's involved in. Period. It only takes 5 seconds. You'll see my signature there! 

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Basil Cream Pasta + Spring Vegetables & Tofu

Okay, first...a question. What do you feed your vegan dog? Bailey has been on Taste of The Wild - Salmon for a long time now, but I harbour yucky feelings about it. Yes, yucky feelings regarding the ethics of said dog food of course, but more so about Bob's optimum health. First and foremost let it be noted that I've done a lot of research on the subject of vegan dog food and I know that dogs can thrive exceptionally on a vegan diet. Cats, however, absolutely cannot. Also, interesting factoid, the longest dog to ever live was vegan. So there's that.  Bailey is basically Todd's and my furry, giant toddler (he can open doors, cabinets and microwaves, people). We want him to be the healthiest he can be. This is why he gets walks twice a day (you think I enjoy going out in 60 mph winds) and eats his fair share of vegetable trimmings #nocompostncessary. He'll eat any vegetable, really. Except raw onion and celery. He politely passes on those. 

If you follow Produce On Parade using Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter you'll know I'm thinking of transitioning him to Natural Balance Vegan Formula dog food. Do you have experience with this dog food or any other vegan dog food? Bailey is a seven year old Husky/German Shepherd rescue who weighs 92 lbs., and is moderately active...when feels like it. I would very much appreciate any input into this matter. Thank you in advance!

Okay, back to people food. And boy this is a good one.

Produce On Parade - Basil Cream Pasta + Spring Vegetables & Tofu

Sometimes I just want need a rich and creamy pasta dish. You know, where plant-based milk and cashews can do their beautiful dance together in a Vitamix? Throw in a handful of fresh basil to this cream sauce and it's on an entirely different level of ecstasy. Combine with steamed broccoli, asparagus, and a little baked tofu...that there is a one amazeballs meal. Quick note, I'm somewhat intrigued by the fact that I did not get auto corrected for amazeballs. Interesting

Produce On Parade - Basil Cream Pasta + Spring Vegetables & Tofu

Nom, nom, nom...basil. Best herb ever, no? Is there anyone just going through life not liking basil? I'm curious. 

Basil Cream Pasta + Spring Vegetables & Tofu

Serves 6

Notes: For the pasta in this dish, I tried to pick a shape that was similar to cut asparagus. Penne would work well, too! The vegetables can be steamed, roasted, or sauteed and any vegetables you like can be substituted. I used coconut milk for this recipe. Almond milk isn't recommended as I think it has too strong of a flavor and may overpower the basil. 

  • Sustenance: 
  • 1 head of broccoli florets, chopped
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, sliced on the diagonal 
  • 1 lb. pasta, dry (your choice)
  • 9 oz. baked tofu (I like Wildwood brand), cubed small
  • Onion & Basil Mixture:
  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chiffonaded 
  • Roux:
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups soy or coconut milk
  • Blender:
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Begin by steaming the chopped vegetables. I did this in my electric steamer. You want them tender and bright, but not mushy. Alternatively, they can be roasted or sauteed. 

Produce On Parade - Basil Cream Pasta + Spring Vegetables & TofuBring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. 

Meanwhile, heat 1/2 Tbsp. oil in a small saucepan on medium-low. Add the onion and garlic. Sautee for about 5 minutes, until the onions have browned. 

Next, add the basil to the onions and saute for about 1 minute, until just wilted but still bright green. Remove from heat and transfer to a small plate until ready for use. 

Produce On Parade - Basil Cream Pasta + Spring Vegetables & TofuIf the water is boiling for the pasta, add it and cook until al dente. Strain and set aside. The pasta should be done right after the rest of the recipe is finished.

Produce On Parade - Basil Cream Pasta + Spring Vegetables & TofuIn the same saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp. oil over low. Then add the flour, stirring for a few minutes until the flour becomes fragrant. Now, slowly whisk in the soymilk and turn to medium heat. Whisk occasionally until the milk has thickened slightly. Transfer carefully to a blender. 

Add the blender ingredients as well as the basil and onion mixture to the blender. Blend on high until smooth and creamy. A tip for blending very hot ingredients is to allow a little steam to vent through the lid so there's no explosion. 

Produce On Parade - Basil Cream Pasta + Spring Vegetables & TofuChop the tofu into small cubes. 

Drain the cooked pasta if it hasn't been already and add it back to the pot. Mix in half the sauce. Stir well to coat, then incorporate the vegetables and the tofu. Add the remaining sauce and mix very well. 

Produce On Parade - Basil Cream Pasta + Spring Vegetables & Tofu

Serve hot and topped with additional fresh basil. 

Produce On Parade - Basil Cream Pasta + Spring Vegetables & Tofu

Whew, thanks for hanging in there with me through this very hodgepodge post. There's a lot of my mind, okay.

Love the violin in this song.

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/44221644" params="color=7cc18c&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_artwork=true" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

German Word of The Day: Basil --> Basilikum (pronounced: bah-zill-E-come) Love it. I hope they don't actually just use "basil" though, that would be unfortunate. 

Good Deed of The Day: Today I am asking for your help to end the Canadian commercial seal slaughter by implementing a federal buyout of sealing licenses. Sign this petition! Baby seals being slaughtered people. For their pelts. Legally! And if that doesn't piss you off...it should. Let's try and do something about it, eh? I'm Alaskan (Canada's little sister), so I can use "eh" here. 

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