Written by Michelle Matthews (Naturopath, BNat.)
Pesto is a delicious green sauce originally from Genoa, Italy. Traditionally it is made with garlic, pine nuts, salt, fresh basil and a hard cheese such as pecorino and blended together with olive oil. This fresh sauce is then mixed into cooked pasta. However, there are many types of variations on this amazingly bright green sauce and there is nothing better than fresh homemade pesto. It will keep for some time, stored in an airtight container and kept in the fridge.
2-3 cloves of Garlic
1/3 cup Pine nuts – lightly roasted in the oven
1-2 large bunch of fresh Basil
Pinch of Salt
60grams of Pecorino or strong Parmesan
Ideally, it is easy to make pesto using a food processor. If you do not have a food processor you can use a stick blender or mortar and pestle. Peel the garlic and combine it with the pine nuts into the food processor, blitz until it forms a smooth paste. Then add the basil, cheese, salt and a little oil, again blitz for 2-3 minutes until it is well combined. Keep adding olive oil as you go until you get the desired consistency. The pesto should be like a thick sauce and the amount of olive oil you add will give you the thickness you desire.
Creamy Macadamia Pesto
2-3 clove of Garlic
1/3 Macadamias nuts – lightly roasted in the oven
1-2 large bunches of fresh Basil
This version is really a creamy indulgence and vegan friendly. As macadamia nuts have a creamier, richer nutty taste and a harder nut, the final pesto is a little lumpier.
Follow the basic directions as above, remembering the olive oil will give you the desired consistency.
Super Green Pesto
2-3 cloves of Garlic
1/3 cup of Walnuts – lightly roasted in the oven
3 cups of Kale – chopped and packed
1 Lemon – juiced
Place the garlic and nuts into a food processor until blended. Add the kale, salt and lemon juice. Blend it a little again, then add the olive oil and blitz until to achieve the desired consistency, adding more olive oil as you go.
Pesto can be tossed through warm pasta, zoodles (zucchini noodles), spread onto your favourite toast or onto some steamed veg. It is really so versatile.
Here are some other substitutes which can be used:
Pine nuts – using other nuts or seeds to achieve a creamier or stronger taste. You can use walnuts, pecans, cashews, brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds, to name a few.
Olive oil – You can experiment with other good clean oils such as macadamia oil, hemp oil, avocado, coconut or a combination of a few.
Basil– whilst basil has a distinct classic taste you could try some other greens such as: parsley, coriander, sage, Thai basil or other leafy greens.
Or even try adding some chilli to give your pesto a kick!
Benefits of some Pesto ingredients:
Garlic is a great addition to any dish. It can help to support and enhance your immune system. Garlic really is great for the upper respiratory system.
Basil is native to the South East regions of the world, although many European countries have adopted it as their own. Basil is high in vitamins C, K and A. It also has good levels of manganese and iron.
Good fats found in nuts, oils and seeds having varying levels of Omega 3, 6 and 9. Macadamia nuts and almonds have the highest content of Omega 3. Good or healthy fats have a positive effect on the immune system by reducing pro-inflammatory markers and modulating immune cell response.
Make sure you eat healthy, real, fresh foods to help support your immune system and try some of these great pesto recipes!