'Go Ahead Honey! It's Raw Dairy Free Pesto!' - The One Where Nobody Cooked.....

As I sit here with a small but perfectly formed Jamesons whisky casting its amber shadow over the keyboard and the very definite tang of garlic and basil on my breath, I am filled with an enormous sense of well being - because I have a small jar of the greenest, most fragrant and absolutely dairy free pesto on a shelf in the fridge. It will be there when I get up tomorrow, like some super hero of the chiller, packed with energy, taste and colour - ready to zing up a bowl of vegetables or some delicate strips of egg noodle at the veritable drop of a hat.

This pesto is nothing like the dark green salty sludge that we used to buy in a jar. The oily slurry that tasted mostly of cheese and some indefinable herb - we assumed was basil. What fools we were to believe that this muck in any way resembled the uplifting herbal scent of basil. Where was that citrus top note? Where where the hints of minty freshness, the floral back notes - the rounded mouth filling garlicky burn? Cooked off in some factory somewhere before being labelled up with Sacla, or Tesco or Pesto King.

The point is that it was cooked, dead, denuded of the vitality that one inhales from a fresh bunch of basil and a newly crushed clove of garlic. And that is why dear readers, this month's 'Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free' challenge to create a dish that was 'un-cooked' demanded that I make some pesto.

I still have to be careful how much raw food I eat even though my gut has pretty much healed. It's a killer because I really could live on salad, fruit and nuts  - granted, I prefer to cook my protein, but that's not the point. All that roughage needs to be broken down a little for my damaged gut to process, and cooking does the job perfectly, so I steam my veg, or roast it, or toss it in a pan with some ginger and stir fry.

What I miss most about having a large amount of raw food is how alive it is and how alive it makes you feel. If you don't have a damaged gut, try and eat 70% raw for a week and see how perky you feel. Ok your jaw might ache from all that chewing, but your skin will glow, eyes shine and your trousers will probably feel a little looser. At Glastonbury we stopped by the raw food cafe so I could gawp at the amazing salads they had there (on the off-chance that any of it was edible for me - nope) we were greeted by the healthiest looking man I think I ever saw. I mean, it was almost a religious experience for me! He glowed with the kind of health that comes from a sense of inner well being, his skin was flawless and his eyes were as clear as glass. I pined for my old un-cooked ways then, looking at those vibrant salads and happy raw food chefs.

So Cheryl, this pesto is my celebration of all things simple, raw and alive. Because I'm not eating dairy or seeds yet, I've replaced the pine nuts and Parmesan with ground almonds and cashew butter. It makes a creamy mild pesto, where the basil is king and the garlic brings up the rear. It goes down well with kids who think pine nuts are a bit funky and is perfect for SCD newbies.

Dairy Free Pesto (SCD) 4-6 portions

1 1/2 oz bunch of fresh basil
1/3 cup ground almonds
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes (less if grains)
1 tsp cashew or white almond butter
1/2 cup light flavoured olive oil
juice of 1/4 - 1/2 a lemon

Skin and squash the garlic. Chuck everything except the oil into a food processor and blitz until a green mush forms. Scrape down once and add half the oil, blitz again and add the rest of the oil, leaving the machine running until the mixture is smooth and creamy looking.

The mixture will be quite thick at this point which I like - To use it for pasta, I just scrape out a spoonful and add a little oil and a teaspoon of water before coating the pasta in it. But you could also stir it into mayonnaise, hung yogurt, pureed vegetables, add it to steamed vegetables with a knob of butter or a drizzle of oil - or just dip some crudites right into the jar as it is. You'll be about half way through before you stop and think - 'hey, isn't this supposed to have cheese in it?'

Fin ate his pesto with grain free egg tagliatelle pictured below (or as he calls it - omelette pasta). To make the pasta I just make some wafer thin egg crepes with a whole egg and a tablespoon of water per egg (two eggs per person) roll them up and slice into thin strips. Hey presto!

If you'd like to enter something un-cooked for this month's 'Go Ahead Honey!' then head over to Cheryl's Blog and check out the event details. I can't wait to see what people didn't cook......