Chockfull of health-promoting properties such as an array of powerful antioxidants, our basil summer pesto packs a colossal nutritional punch. No longer confined as a pasta topping, pesto is a must-serve topping for anything from chicken to fish, salads to omelets. See below for all the ways you can harness the super anti-inflammatory and flavour-bursting goodness of our perfect summer pesto.
Perfect Summer Pesto
2 cups basil leaves (washed and dried)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled
1-2 tablespoon pine nuts (lightly toasting on a dry skillet will intensify their flavour)
2-3 tablespoon grated Parmigiano cheese (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
(makes approx 1 cup)
In a food processor or blender add garlic, nuts and basil leaves. Slowly stream in olive oil as needed. If the pesto is too thick you can continue to add in more olive or simply add water until your desired consistency is reached (the pesto should resemble the consistency of a thick paste). Stir in the Parmigiano and add salt and pepper to taste.
Feeling adventurous or looking for variations? Replace up to half of the basil with other fresh herbs, such as parsley or cilantro, or baby greens such as arugula, baby spinach or baby kale. Or, throw in some sundried tomatoes for more flavour intensity. Instead of the Parmigiano, use any other sharp cheese such as a goat cheddar or a sheep milk cheese like Pecorino or Crotonese. As for the pine nuts, use walnuts instead, or to go nut-free, try pumpkin seeds, or omit altogether.
Liven up your next meal or snack:
- Top plain, grilled chicken, shrimp or lamb chops (or use some in the marinade before grilling, and reserve some for topping afterwards)
- Spoon over steamed or oven-baked fish
- Drizzle over your favourite steamed or roasted vegetables such as asparagus, artichokes or broccoli
- Skip the mayo and use pesto in your next sandwich or grilled Panini
- Serve as a dip with fresh-cut raw veggies
- Drizzle over omelets, scrambled or poached eggs
- Thin it out with a little lemon juice or balsamic vinegar and use as a salad dressing for your next sexy salad
- Mix a couple spoonfuls into cooked brown rice, quinoa or any savory whole grain
- Drizzle raw over whole-grain pizza, bruschetta or foccacia
- Spread on toast and top with sliced avocado and tomatoes for a quick and healthy snack
Do yourself, and your pocketbook, a favour and make a large batch when basil is most economical and abundant (mid-late summer) and freeze in airtight containers or ice cube trays. Just skip the cheese – add it fresh when you defrost it. Tip: if using ice cube trays, drizzle a little olive oil over the top of each cube compartment to keep the pesto from getting dark from contact with the air. Enjoy for up to 3-6 months. Being super quick to defrost, you’ll always have a go-to way to brighten up and upgrade the nutritional profile of any meal or snack!