Category: Staples

The carbon, slavery, and deforestation on your toast (and a better way)

Meet: Pesto Toast

I’m so old I remember when avocados were fairly exotic. Pronouncing ‘guacamole’ was a struggle for even the more cultured white person. Nowadays, I see Costco carts loaded with multiple bulk packs of the creamy fruit, destined for smoothies, tacos, and, of course, toast. It’s a very first food for countless babies and the day’s first meal for career hustlers around the country. 

Bottom line: avocado production has a high carbon footprint because of the inputs needed and the land (forests) diverted to make room to grow for the huge demand. The water needed to grow the crop is also substantial and often in areas that don’t have water to spare–California, Mexico, and Chile. (Learn more, here.) Avocados are a seasonal item, so costs involved in providing a steady year-round avocado supply are higher than ensuring constant availability of seasonal items that store well, like potatoes, onions, and garlic.

Then there are the labor issues (not unique to avocado farming, of course), cartel demands, and even the exploited work of the bees.

Avocados aren’t the devil, and there are Fair-Trade options that are certainly a better choice, but here’s an alternative that utilizes whatever you have on hand and provides a way to use all the kale and greens available at the farmers’ markets (and often available year-round thanks to local greenhouses). Get your greens and eat your toast, too. This is a free-form recipe so run with it, experiment and revise based on what you have and what you find you like.

Spread pesto on toast and top with sliced radish, tomatoes, fresh herbs, cucumber, zucchini, edible flowers, sesame seeds, flaky sea salt, and cracked pepper. When the fresh selection is more limited, top with sun-dried tomatoes, pickled radish/vegetables, kimchi, roasted sweet potato, and sliced tofu/tempeh. And if you have a greens glut? Make the pesto ahead and keep it frozen for the winter months!

Favorite pesto base combinations:

  • Roasted sunflower seeds, arugula, grapeseed oil
  • Almonds, kale, extra garlic
  • Sunflower seeds, Basil/kale, olive oil
  • Pumpkin seeds, cilantro/flat-leaf parsley, sunflower oil, red chili flakes
  • Pea shoots or microgreens also make a terrific base for green pesto!



Herby Pesto For Toast

Spread this green pesto on your next piece of toast! Add a little plant milk and it’s a quick pasta sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup nuts or seeds, or mix
  • 1-4 cloves garlic or scapes/green garlic
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 5 ounces greens, herbs, or a mix about 2 cups
  • 1/4 cup oil, olive or grapeseed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • salt + pepper

Instructions

  • In food processor, pulse nuts/seeds until they are well-ground, but not so much that they turn into butter.
    Add garlic and nutritional yeast and continue to pulse until mixture looks like uniform crumbs.
    Add greens/herbs and pulse until greens are totally chopped and mixture again looks uniform and evenly blended.
    Turn machine on and pour in olive oil, then water. Scrape down the bowl, add salt and pepper, and pulse a few more times.
    Store in refrigerator. Basil pesto will turn brown when exposed to air–pour a layer of oil over pesto then cover with wrap or a lid.

Notes

  • I’ve only made this using a food processor but a strong blender would probably work too.
  • I use sunflower seeds or almonds, salted/roasted are fine, just watch how much salt is added at the end
  • Kale, arugula, Swiss Chard, and pea shoots all make great green pesto
  • Basil is great on its own or mixed with greens; a blend of cilantro + flat-leaf parsley plus some dried red chili flakes is delicious
  • Mix herbs + greens together based on what you have!
 


The NEW New Potatoes

Do your farmer a favor. Eat the radishes!

Ahhhh radishes, those DayGlo roots from the dirt. There is such a satisfying tug as each one is lifted from the soil. Radishes are the vegetable grower’s secret weapon as they are a relatively un-fussy crop and ready in as few as 18 days from planting seeds (new potatoes take around 65). In the past, my average annual radish consumption was probably around 3.7 total–a couple roasted, a few slices on a salad, maybe a couple pickled radish slices alongside Indian food. Mostly, I grew them for a few loyal fans and because they are fun (and adorable). Hold tight though, because the radish revolution is here and now.

To change your radish-despising mind, it’s time to rethink radishes. They are now new potatoes’ cousin. Give them a scrub, trim the ends, and boil until tender. I give them the full treatment with a hefty does of my homemade vegan butter, Maldon sea salt, and fresh cut herbs from the garden. Oh, and they are low carb, if you are into that.

Another secret: radishes are the easiest to grow. Grab a pot or even a plastic storage container, some dirt, and a packet of radish seeds (Easter Egg/Valentine’s are multi-colored, French Breakfast are super fast) (not an affiliate link). Keep them watered and you’ll see sprouts within a couple days.


New New Potatoes

Radishes get the full new potato treatment in a low-carb, farmer-friendly, seasonal side dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch radishes
  • sea salt
  • oil or vegan butter
  • fresh herbs

Instructions

  • Pull greens off radishes. Scrub radishes with a cloth to remove dirt. Trim off ends if you like. If some radishes are especially large, trim to uniform size for even cooking time.
    Place radishes in a pot and fill two-thirds of the way with cold water. Set on high heat until simmer is reached. Turn down heat and simmer radishes, checking after about five minutes. They may take up to ten minutes, or more, depending on size and age. Test with a fork–radishes should be fork tender.
    Drain and place radishes in bowl along with sea salt, oil/vegan butter, and garnish with freshly chopped herbs!


I Can’t Believe it’s Dairy-Free Butter

Make your own spreadable dairy-free ‘butter’ with a few simple ingredients. There are so many butter substitutes available these days, but they aren’t always accessible (Hi, rural America), and often expensive and sometimes full of unnecessary additions.

Caveat: this is meant more for toast, vegetables, and as a topping. It’s not really meant as a substitute for butter in cooking or baking recipes. The ratio of saturated fat to fat will most likely throw your recipe off. If you experiment though, I’d love to hear!

It’s time to churn, folks! And with no cost to the cows. Take this recipe and run with it–add herbs, spices, fancy salts, and believe in the power of homemade.

Dairy-Free Butter Spread

A spreadable dairy-free/vegan butter sub made with just a handful of ingredients. Be sure to read Notes for tips!
Author: CloverLush

Ingredients

  • 5 Tablespoons Refined coconut oil Solid state
  • 1.25 Tablespoons Water Room temp
  • 1/3 Cup Neutral oil Sunflower or Grapeseed are great
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Sea salt More/less to taste
  • OPTIONAL: 1/8 Teaspoon Turmeric For color

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. With whisk attachment, beat on medium speed for about 3-5 minutes, until it looks like custard.
  • Pour into container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, until firm but spreadable.
  • Store leftovers in refrigerator. Butter will remain spreadable, even after chilled.

Notes

Be sure to use *refined* coconut oil (jar will say so); if coconut oil is in liquid state, refrigerate until solid state before proceeding with recipe.
Turmeric adds color but is optional.
Start with a small amount of salt and add more based on taste!
Do not use this as a substitute for butter in recipes as the ratio of total fat to saturated fat will not sub well.
 

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