I’ve been in a cooking frenzy lately, and it mainly has to do with the bounty of fresh and local produce I’ve been able to get my hands on. There’s no denying that most vegetables just taste better when they haven’t been shipped half-way around the country.

My boyfriend’s mother gave him a beautiful bunch of basil, and as soon as I saw it I knew exactly what to make: pesto. I wasn’t in the mood for pasta though, and since I’m a little overstocked on arborio rice right now, it made sense to make pesto risotto.

Pesto Risotto

I used a very basic pesto recipe (2 cups basil, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt), but added 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast, a handful of parsley, and substituted cashews for the pine nuts. Who the hell can afford pine nuts? I’m probably going to use cashews in pesto from now on – the flavor and texture were more pleasurable to me than with pine nuts or walnuts. The risotto was also really simple, just with sautĂ©ed onion, because I wanted the pesto to really shine. It tasted delicious, plus risotto always feels fancy.

Tabbouleh

This is Mark Bittman‘s Tabbouleh from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I relied heavily on tabbouleh for lunches when I worked at a farmer’s market because I could make the grain part ahead of time and then just throw in fresh tomato and cucumber. I added cucumber to this recipe because I like the crispness it provides to the salad. The mint came from my front yard, and the tomatoes were from the local tailgate market. I love having it on hand to snack on.

Pepperjack Daiya Pizza

I rarely buy vegan cheese, but I made an exception a couple of days ago when I wanted some pizza. They had gotten in the new pepperjack Daiya at Greenlife, so I splurged a little. I have to admit though, I wasn’t very impressed. It’s not that it tasted bad, I just don’t think it’s worth it. At almost $5 a bag, it’s not at all budget friendly, and I’d just as soon have a cheeseless pizza or whip up a quick nutritional yeast-based cheese sauce.

The pizza was pretty satisfying though. I was lazy and used a premade crust, and topped it off with green peppers, tomatoes, and basil. I’m learning that simple is usually better with pizzas.

Now that I’ve stumbled onto how tasty cashew-pesto is, what are some good (non-pasta, non-risotto) uses for it?

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