ONCE UPON A time, buying pesto was easy. I was a vegetarian at that stage, so the chiller at the supermarket was stocked with a huge range of tasty options – my favourites were from Lisa’s, most notably the chunky Rocket and Parmesan dip or the Basil and Ricotta Pesto. Once I went vegan, the choices narrowed, and when I started hanging around with a gluten-free vegan who doesn’t do garlic, the choices imploded to virtually nothing.
Of course, it’s easy enough to blend up a simple but exceedingly tasty pesto with just a few ingredients and a food processor, but sometimes, it’s nice to be able to just grab a jar or pottle from the shops, especially when you’re traveling around NZ sans food processor.
Which brings us to Waiheke Island Herb Spread from Waiheke Herbs. When a friend asked me to grab her some of the garlic-free version, I thought I’d be eating some kind of slightly bland mix of green stuff, but the truth is that this spread is as tasty as any dip or pesto I’ve ever eaten.
It’s a genuine herb spread, not just a typical basil, oil and pinenuts pesto and it’s all the better for it. The organic, garlic-free version’s ingredients are:
Olive Oil, Parsley, Apple Cider Vinegar, NZ Sea Salt, Rosemary, NZ Spinach, Nasturtium, Calendula, Dandelion, Plantain, Sage, Oregano, Thyme, Lavender.
To put it mildly, this stuff is delicious. It’s pungent, laced with rich herbal flavours with subtle hints of other herbs mixed in. Best of all, this spread seems to go with anything. I’ve used it on sandwiches, in pasta, thinly spread on rice crackers and slathered on toast, and even mixed into a salad as part of the dressing. A dollop on the side of a mezze platter adds to the meal and it makes a brilliant snack as a dip with some sliced carrots. It’s rapidly become a staple round my place, and it makes it easy to cater to the occasional picky eater, creating the illusion that I can actually cook.
Sure at around 10 bucks for 200 grams, it’s not exactly cheap, especially compared to the supermarket offerings, but it’s strong enough that you don’t need heaps, so it seems to last quite well, assuming you’re not eating it all the time like I do. I’ve found it at health shops such as Huckleberry Farms in Auckland and Wild Earth in Tauranga – the full list of stockists is here http://www.waihekeherbs.co.nz/retailers.html but they’ll ship it out to you if there aren’t any stockists in your area.
This is one of the nicest products I’ve encountered in my vegan journey, and it’s well worth adding to the fridge. ASHLEY KRAMER
(Photos for this review were shot by the multi-talented Miss Rachel Walker)