Homemade Pesto with Toasted Buckwheat as Pine Nut Substitute

I can still remember the first time I tried making pesto - being a poor student (still poor now) who can't afford pine nuts - and decided to use hazel nuts instead. The cheapest way to do it was to buy whole nuts and grind them myself. But with almost nothing I can use for grinding (again, being a poor student), I turned to an old small pepper mill and ended up spending days just to grind the nuts - not to mention my almost crippled hand!

That, was 12 years ago.



Quite frankly, I have never used pine nuts in any of my pestos because it's simply too expensive where I (have to) live! I've tried making pesto with hazel nut, almond, and walnut; they all tasted great and I don't see why I have to succumb to pine nuts. That would make my homemade pesto 4 times the price of a jar of shop-bought pesto, which is completely pointless.

I make my own pesto more regularly nowadays, as we have some basil growing in the garden (balcony). I do however, dry it beforehand, because I don't tend to be able to harvest enough fresh leaves at one go. But trust me, pesto made using dried basil tastes as good if not better (in my opinion anyway). I find that dried basil gives a more concentrated aroma, minus the wet/damp smell that fresh leaves have; and it keeps better using dried ingredients.

Since I made the crunchy chocolate snack, there's still quite a lot of hulled buckwheat left. The experimenting worms in my head are starting to wiggle again: could I possibly use toasted buckwheat in replacement of the nut portion in pesto?

You connoisseurs can scream for all you want, I'm going to try it anyway 😀

I don't really weigh and measure the ingredients when it comes to pesto, I just go with the flow as to how cheesy or garlicky I like it. However, I do usually have a rough gauge in % of the portion of each ingredient:

50% Chopped dried basil
10% Ground nuts (I've tried with almond, hazel and walnut; whichever I had in the kitchen at the time of making)
10% Minced garlic
15% Grated cheddar cheese
15% Olive oil

I would normally decide on a jar, and use the jar to roughly measure the portions of the ingredients, based on the above ratio. Apart from the 50% of basil that I generally keep constant, I would readjust the others if i have to. As this is an experiment with new ingredient, I've used a small jar (I believe it's 125g).

To toast the buckwheat, heat the groats in a pan on medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 5-10 minutes. The buckwheat groats will be mid-brown in colour. When the groats are cooled, grind them with pestle and mortar.

With all the ingredients ready, place everything except the olive oil, directly into the jar and mix roughly. Then pour the olive oil in slowly, whilst stirring to mix well.



The result? Absolutely fine. In fact, it has a little toasty aroma to it, besides giving a slightly crunchier bite.

Another step closer to finishing the bag of buckwheat!

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