Pesto is a gourmet item that when added to any dish, turns it from boring to sassy. Is goes great with many dishes from pasta to chicken, fish, potatoes, rice, soups, salads, and sandwiches. Another good reason to eat pesto is for its nutritional value. Packed with basil, olive oil, nuts, and garlic, (and some cheese) – pesto is very healthy for you. It is rich in vitamins A, E, and K, minerals such as iron and calcium, unsaturated fats (help reduce cholesterol), antioxidants, and protein.
At home I use pesto to dress up roasted veggies or as a marinade for chicken. This way, I get my kids to eat their veggies and protein. And even when they eat the pesto over pasta, which is always their first choice, they still get all these nutritional benefits.
I sometimes partially substitute parsley for basil, for an extra nutritional boost. I also use walnuts instead of pine nut, for the same reason. Yes, the pesto tastes a little different this way, but is not less yummy. Try it for your self…
2 large bunches fresh basil (or one bunch basil and one flat parsley)
1 cup halved walnuts
2 cloves garlic
2 oz Parmesan cheese, cut into cubes (or any other sharp flavor cheese)
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Place all the ingredients, except for the oil, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. If the pesto seems too thick, add some more oil and give it another spin in the food processor.
Pesto loses its green color and turns black if exposed to air. So make sure to either use it right away, or store the pesto in a jar in with a thin film of olive oil on top and refrigerate it.