Skip to content

Vegan pesto

Vegan pesto with homegrown basil and homegrown garlic

If you’ve got fresh basil (and I do — apparently the deer don’t like it and left it for me), then you’ve got to make pesto. No pine nuts? Use walnuts. No parmesan? Use … brewer’s yeast. Living in an RV and no proper chopping instruments? Just lazily mince the basil as best you can. Pesto is very flexible and very forgiving. Macaroni (whole wheat, at least) works just fine.

I’m not a vegan, but I love good vegan cookery. Brewer’s yeast is a staple that I always keep on hand. During the winter I used it as a binder in salmon cakes. I’m finding that it makes a nice, nutty substitute for grated parmesan. It helps if you’ve ever been to the Red Vic Movie House on Haight Street in San Francisco. Having their brewer’s yeast popcorn is a good lesson in not being afraid of brewer’s yeast.

Here in the rural South, though, the concept of parmesan seems to be different. Ordinary grocery stores have it, but it’s coarsely grated, soft, and greasy, more like grated jack cheese than parmesan. Apparently that’s what country people like, the same way they like salad dressings so thick that they won’t pour and have to be served with a spoon. I’m finding that Southerners have even forgotten what good mayonnaise is all about. A country grocery store may have twelve different brands of mayonnaise, but every one of them will contain adulterants and inferior ingredients, and they’re not fit to eat. Another complaint, as long as I’m complaining, is that Southerners of all people don’t seem to understand buttermilk anymore. It’s almost impossible to find buttermilk that doesn’t have adulterants like tapioca. I’ve given up on buttermilk and have just switched to soy milk. But I haven’t given up on speaking to grocery store managers. If I find the manager and say politely that it sure would be nice to have buttermilk that’s just buttermilk, the manager looks at me like I’m from Mars. But I soldier on.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, people understand about good milk. Around here, that’s been forgotten. People buy whatever the local dairy sells. They don’t read the labels, and they don’t ask questions. Hormones? No problem. Preservatives? No problem. Tapioca in the buttermilk? No problem. I’m tempted to draw parallels between Southerners’ passivity and ignorance about who sells them good food to their passivity and ignorance about who sells them good government. But I’ll leave that for another day, even as I continue to ask grocery store managers if they have any better buttermilk, and where did those onions come from.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *