Thursday, July 18, 2013

Basil Walnut Pesto

As the basil in my garden grows fuller this time of year, I start dreaming of pesto. Using walnuts in place of pine nuts makes it more affordable, and the walnuts add their own unique, pleasant flavor to the dish.

Pesto is simple and easy to make, yet it's just bursting with flavor. You can even freeze extra pesto during the height of basil season to preserve a little taste of summer for the cold winter months.

To make your own delicious pesto, you will need:

1 cup fresh basil leaves (packed)
1-3 cloves of fresh garlic (We are garlic-lovers here; you might as well go with 3!)
¼ cup walnuts
¾ cup Parmesan cheese
½ cup olive oil (or your favorite liquid fat)
⅛ teaspoon salt (I prefer Real Salt)

Here's how:
  • Add basil, garlic, walnuts, cheese, and salt to your blender or food processor. Pulse until well blended.
  • Incorporate the olive oil, blending as you pour it until the mixture forms a thick puree.
  • Mix into freshly cooked pasta and serve immediately! (This makes enough pesto for 12 to 16 ounces of pasta.) My favorite gluten-free pasta brands are Ancient Harvest quinoa pasta and Tinkyada rice pasta.

Other fun ways to use your fresh pesto:
  • Spread on crackers or chunks of bread for a delicious snack
  • Use in place of mayonnaise or mustard in your sandwich or wrap
  • Mix it in with mashed potatoes or cauliflower for a zesty side-dish
  • Stuff chicken breasts with pesto before baking

Pesto can also be made with any hearty leafy greens like kale, chard, or beet greens—yet another way to handle the abundance of greens this time of year! I like to keep at least ⅓ to ½ cup basil in the mix when subbing in greens for the rest, to keep some of that delicious basil flavor.. It's totally up to you!

What's your favorite way to eat pesto? I'd love to try your ideas!

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