I must confess that I didn’t expect to post a recipe for pesto on this blog. Pesto is not a diet friendly food. It is usually served in main dishes tossed with loads of pasta and parmesan cheese. What pesto does have going for it is its strong flavor and taste. As with any high fat food, it can be used in moderation to add a punch to a recipe. You might not know that pesto alone has less than 100 calories and 9 grams of fat in a tablespoon.
The other night Brett and I grilled salmon and topped each piece with a tablespoon of pesto. Most fish, boneless skinless chicken breasts and grilled boneless pork loin chops are also delicious topped with spoon of pesto. Pesto also adds moistness to grilled food which may tend to be somewhat dry.
My herb pots this year are overflowing with basil. I needed to harvest some to give the other herbs some room to grow. I believe that Ina Garten’s (The Barfoot Contessa on the Food Network) has the best recipe for pesto. It is simple and delicious. I like her combination of pine nuts and walnuts. You can also use almonds, pecans or most other nuts in place of the walnuts. Although pine nuts are traditional, you can substitute other nuts in a pinch. Different nuts give the pesto a little different flavor. So, feel free to experiment.
This recipe also makes the perfect quantity, about 2 cups. I freeze 3 of the 4 ounce Gladware containers for later use. It keeps well in the refrigerator for a week or so. Let me know how you are using pesto in your kitchen.
Copyright, 2001, Barefoot Contessa Parties!
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Place the walnuts, pine nuts, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.