Monday, July 28, 2014

Basil 'Cream' Sauce

Basil Sauce (dried basil used) w/ GF pasta, spinach and crispy baked tofu!
 This sauce started out as a family 'recipe' that my sister-in-law got from her mother-in-law. I use the quotes because it's one that has always gone something like this:

Mix equal parts of Vegenaise and Plain Yogurt. Add nutritional yeast. Add more nutritional yeast. Add onion powder. Add more onion powder. Add dried oregano. Add more dried oregano. taste. adjust. Serve on veggies, tofu, pasta, rice dishes, anything and everything you want basil-y delicious!

When I went vegan I thought I'd just sub soy or any other vegan yogurt but it never tasted the same. It tasted off, and I was sad. I missed this sauce. I missed it a lot. It was one that truly tasted amazing without the need for fresh ingredients and elevated any simple, thrown together meal to something that felt restaurant-worthy. The kids loved it, too!
Breakfast with Basil Sauce (fresh basil used) over quinoa and Vegan Diner's Smoky Curls
Then, the other day, while harvesting some fresh basil from our newly planted container garden, I had an epiphany. I can't really take much credit. All I did here was take an already amazing recipe and change the flavors to become my beloved basil sauce. 

Most vegans who frequent the internet are familiar with Mama Pea of the now dismantled Peas And Thank You site (or cookbook by the same name) and her amazing Mmmm Sauce. Flavored with curry and dried cilantro and with a base of almond and chickpeas it is a super creamy and delicious sauce that is totally vegan and totally, turns out, versatile!

So here ya have it. Basil Sauce. Thanks to Mama Pea Sara for her generous vegan creativity, my genius mother-in-law(-in-law) for her original amazing recipe, and my tiny little lively basil plant who keeps giving me tons of bright green herbs and loads of inspiration! (You can nix the dried basil and use fresh basil if you have it on hand, but it's not necessary. Just use one chopped tablespoon of fresh herbs for every tsp of dried.)

Basil Sauce
makes approx (just under) 3 cups of sauce

1/2 c. canola, olive or other mild tasting oil
1/2 c. almonds*
2/3 c. water (+ more for thinning to desired consistency)
1/2 c. chickpeas
1/2 c. + 1 T nutritional yeast
1 1/2 T lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp light agave 
1 1/2 tsp dried basil (or 1 1/2 T fresh chopped basil)

Add all ingredients but basil to high powered blender, stick blender container, bullet, or food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy adding water one tablespoon at a time until you reach desired consistency. Sauce will be somewhat thick but definitely spreadable. It's up to you if you want it pourable. Add basil and pulse to incorporate without turning your sauce green. Unless green sauce is what your after, then blend away! Taste and adjust seasonings.

*I use a Vitamix so I use plain, raw almonds without soaking but if you find that your blending device has issues with whole, raw nuts you might want to soak yours for a couple hours prior in the 2/3 c water. 

**I have two adjustments I haven't tried to this recipe and will report back once I do, but the first is to add a bulb of roasted garlic. I mean, how could that be a bad idea?! I don't think garlic powder would do, but roasted garlic? yes, please! the other change I'm thinking of toying with is to use a 2:1 ratio of almonds to cashews to see if I could get it a bit smoother. With this option I will omit the agave until it's all been blended and see how it tastes before adding since cashews always seem to add their own bit of sweetness. If you happen to try either of these variations, do let me know how they turn out for you!
Clean out the 'fridge dinner! Basil Sauce over Smoky Curls, 'shrooms, spinach, and quinoa & onions


Jenni (aka Vegyogini) said...

This sauce looks so good! It's nice to see you popping up again from time to time. :) What happened to Mama Pea? This is the first I've heard of it.

Don't Get Mad, Get Vegan! said...

Thanks, Jenni! From what I could gather from her last few posts, she and her husband decided to adopt and focus their energies at home, not leaving a lot of time for an online presence.

As for me, I keep hoping to blog more, but find myself limited to littering my FB feed with hurried food pics instead. Wondering if I should MoFo this year. Decisions, decisions! ;)

Thanks for stopping by!