I love pesto, it's one of the first things I learnt to make long before pesto was readily available. I always grow basil in the summertime so I can make my own pesto and have a jar ready to use in the fridge. It gives a real flavour burst to more than just pasta. I love to add it onto boiled or baked potatoes, mix in with mashed avocado or thin it out and use as a dressing for salads. Sometimes I mix it in with fresh chopped tomatoes, it's a match made in heaven.
When I did a quick look at what was available in the supermarkets I was a bit dismayed at what gets passed off as pesto. I understand that pine nuts are expensive so cashews are used in their place and that is one variation I can cope with. I have seen pesto containing sunflower oil, or worse yet canola oil, sugar and salt. Original pesto contains 6 healthy ingredients so why deviate from something the Italians perfected?
Basil has many health benefits, like all herbs it is rich in minerals and lots of chlorophyll (which gives basil it's vibrant green colour) It contains a phytochemical which helps protect our body from the damaging effect of free radicals. It can help to calm an upset digestive system and is also helpful for the nervous system where there is irritability or sadness. It may even help you feel more enthusiastic, just think of those Italians and their enthusiasm it must be the pesto that does it.
So here is my super simple super healthy basil pesto recipe, if you want to make a vegan version leave out the cheese and butter add 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast instead.
What you Need
80g - 100g fresh basil
2 small cloves garlic
3 tablespoons pine nuts or raw cashew nuts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
50g grated hard cheese: parmesan or pecorino or Foxenburg Pecorino Romano
30g soft butter
Place the basil, garlic, nuts and olive oil in a blender, I use my Magimix but a Nutribullet or other high speed blender will work. Blend until smooth, add the cheese and blend again and then add the butter. Place in a sterilised glass jar making sure all the air is out, flatten the top and cover with olive oil. This will last about 2 - 3 weeks in the fridge.
Makes 1 cup/200g which is a lot more than you will find in the stores and a lot cheaper too.
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