I love love love pesto. Pesto pasta, pesto drizzled over salads, pesto in sandwiches, you name it, i love it. One problem however, traditional pesto is made with Parmesan cheese, and that's the way i always ate it. However i found out recently that Parmesan cheese contains animal rennet and being a Muslim, that would make it haraam. There are different opinions on this matter, however, my view on the matter is: where in doubt, leave it. The fact that it contains animal rennet also rules it out for vegetarians. Unfortunately restaurants still advertise some foods containing pesto as suitable for vegetarians, when it clearly is not and i doubt very much that they omit the Parmesan as it's one of the main ingredients.
I would usually substitute the cheese, but I've found that most cheeses which, would be suitable also contain rennet. So I've decided to omit the cheese altogether.
The verdict: i honestly don't miss the cheese, it tastes lighter and just as good. I've tweaked it a little from traditional pesto recipes, to suit my preferences and reduce the cals. But please feel free to tweak it and make it your own.
2 Handfulls of Basil
1 Handfull of Corriander- I didn't have enough basil
1 Tbsp Toasted Pine Nut Kernals
1 Garlic Clove
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
Salt & Pepper to taste
1. Toast the pine nut kernals. This draws out the oils and brings out the flavour. You can either put these in the oven or you can put them in a frying pan and quickly toast them. I do the latter to cut time.
2. In a chopper or blender add the basil, corriander (If using), garlic, lemon and a little bit of the oil. Blitz it all together.
3. Slowly add the rest of the oil, if you add it all at once it may cause your pesto to split. Adding the oil slowly allows the oil and the rest of the ingredients to be incorporated together.
4. Season to taste
5. Your done!
Tip: You can substitute some of the oil for chicken stock. Thank you Dani. I tried this and i have to agree with Dani, it tastes better then just the oil.
So what can you do with it? Anything! Okay, maybe not anything but pesto is so versatile. You can add it to you're pastas, drizzle over salads, spread in sandwichs, which is my personal favourite, i'll be posting a recipe of that soon.