Green Midsummer Pesto (Vegan)


This is my first recipe of the year using home grown produce.  The kale is doing really well – as it always does, and this year I’ve finally been bothered to protect it from the butterflies with some netting. (I really hope they find somewhere else just as lovely to lay their eggs!)  So I’m making do with just four plants rather than the usual eight, which last year I shared with the caterpillars – This means I now have more room for new crops such as leeks and swede and broccoli which will come into their own in the winter months.

My caged curly kale – sorry butterflies!
A beautiful bunch of basil in the greenhouse – time to sow some more.

But right now it is midsummer’s day and I am going to make something fresh and vibrant and brilliantly green to celebrate that.  Taking a few leaves from each kale plant, and a good bunch of basil I’ve cultivated in the greenhouse, along with a few other store cupboard staples this is my first pesto recipe.  I’ve used kale with the basil, partly because its wonderfully nutritious, partly because it’s relatively inexpensive to get hold of in large quantities and partly because I’m dying to get in there and use my own home grown veg – and the kale is just about ready.  The chard is not far behind and this recipe would work well with chard or spinach in replacement of the kale if that’s what you’ve got or what you prefer.

Serves 6

  • 100g cashews – can be partially or fully substituted with almonds (£1.89)
  • 100g of kale (72p)
  • 50g bunch of basil (86p)
  • grated zest and juice of one lemon juice (50p)
  • 1 shallot / 1/2 red onion (10p)
  • 1 clove of garlic (5p)
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) cup olive oil (41p)
  • 20g (1/3 cup) of nutritional yeast flakes – optional (45p)
  • Salt and black pepper
My first bunch of young curly kale, with beautiful red runner bean flowers in the background.  Runner and french bean recipes coming up soon.

First toast the cashew nuts either in a dry frying pan or on a dry baking tray in a hot oven for five minutes.

Destalk the kale, then roughly chop it with the onion and garlic, then add all the ingredients to a food processor.  Whizz the pesto up for no more than a minute, pushing the mixture back down the sides every now and then.  Adjust the flavour by adding salt, pepper, and a dash more olive oil or lemon juice if you think it needs it.

While this is all going on, put a large pan of pasta on to cook and when it’s drained, just stir the pesto through and finish off with a little chilli salt for an extra kick.  This pesto is also good stirred through boiled new potatoes with peas… Or it can be used in place of jarred pesto in any number of recipes.  This is a great staple to keep up your sleeve, and a fab way of using those green leaves now that I don’t have to battle the caterpillars for them.


This recipe comes to £4.98.  If you include the price of some good quality pasta, it works out at 97p per generous portion for a fresh green summery lunch.

Please note that all my ingredients are costed at organic supermarket and veg box prices and are therefore higher than if you are sourcing food in bulk or from your own garden.  Although 97p a portion is a brilliant price for such a good quality and tasty meal, in reality I would spend much less on these ingredients – see my post Organic and Frugal? to find out how.



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