Pesto is a mainstay in my kitchen. Not only does it pack a ton of flavor, it is a nutritional powerhouse. The simple ingredients, including basil, garlic, olive oil, nuts & seeds, and sea salt, are pretty much all superfoods. Read about garlic's anti-cancer, prebiotic, and other health benefits here. The nuts and seeds in the recipe include walnuts and hemp seeds; both are rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids. They help to mellow out the bite of the raw garlic, making this an extremely palatable way to eat a lot of this healthy plant. Check out this link to read more about basil's nutritional benefits, including its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. And of course olive oil is well known for its health benefits; follow this link for the specifics. This recipe is completely raw, so it's great for anyone on a raw foods diet or cleanse.
Pesto is so delicious and good for you, and with my recipe it's very easy and affordable to make large amounts yourself and have it on hand anytime. While pesto does freeze well, I find I can make several jars of it at a time and they'll keep in my fridge for at least a few weeks. You can top off the pesto with a bit of olive oil in order to prevent the discoloration from oxidation. Personally, if I stick things in my freezer I'm likely to forget they exist; things stored in my fridge are way easier to keep track of. If you grow basil and harvest a ton of it at once, excess can definitely be frozen or canned for long term storage.
Don't limit your pesto use to just the typical pasta and pizza! I find I can put it on just about any savory dish that needs a little salt and flavor boost. It's great on savory sandwiches, on crackers with cheese or other toppings, with rice and fish, or as a salad dressing.
Without further ado, the recipe, which makes about a half quart of pesto:
4 oz fresh basil
4 to 8 cloves garlic
1/2 c raw walnuts
1/4 c hemp seed hearts
1 tsp sea salt
1 c olive oil, more as needed for blending
This recipe uses 4 oz of basil, because it comes in these handy and well-priced tubs at our local grocery. You can easily double the batch, depending on how much basil you have on hand, and how much you love pesto.
Add sea salt. I find one teaspoon is safe. I overdid it on the salt when I made one batch, and my family was a little scared of my pesto after that. Since that experience, I feel like it's better to undersalt it than use it too liberally.
Add oil. Extra virgin olive oil is traditional. Walnut oil and pistachio oil also make delicious pesto.
Blend all ingredients. You might need to pause and stir, to get everything incorporated. More oil can be added to assist blending, but once you get the proportions right, it will blend up into a smooth green pesto.
What's your favorite way to use pesto? Please share your ideas in the comments below!