When we were picking out seeds and seedlings this spring, I knew I wanted to plant Thai basil as it is one of my favorite herbs as it adds an elusive, but authentic somethin’-somethin’ to Thai dishes. With an anise-y, somewhat minty flavor that is quite different from (also delicious) sweet basil, Thai basil is common in Asian cooking and we’ve been throwing it in our stir-fries and noodles dishes all summer. We grew it so successfully, though, that I wanted to find a use for a lot of it before it starts getting damaged by colder temperatures. Enter pesto! Pesto requires a lot of basil. Because Thai basil is so different from Italian basil, I wanted to reimagine it completely to feature the popular flavors of Thai cuisine to make it really shine. And shine it does. This pesto is bright, piquant, aromatic, rich and full of complex flavor. I also love how the miso mimics parmesan cheese in a classic Italian pesto, so it’s a fun nod in that way.
A couple of recipe notes: I used cilantro in my version but if you’re an anti-cilantro person, feel free to sub with an herb of your choice (knowing it will change the overall flavor) or even spinach. I did not test this without oil but feel free to use vegetable stock to replace it if that’s your thing.
2 cups fresh Thai basil leaves, packed ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves (or spinach) ⅓ cup dry roasted peanuts, salted or unsalted 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil 1 tablespoon minced garlic 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated 2 teaspoons mild miso (like white or chickpea) 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 2 teaspoons tamari ⅔ cup scallion ends (greens) Salt, pepper and cayenne (optional) to taste
Add everything into the bowl of a food processor and mix until combined. Add the scallion greens and pulse until combined. Season to taste with salt, pepper and optional cayenne. Gently heat and serve as you like. I served it over rice noodles with sautéed tempeh, bok choy, peanuts, etc.
Vegan, Recipe, Pesto, Sauce, Basil, Thai Basil
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