In the summer of 2015 I was obsessed with the green stuff.
High up in the town of Corniglia, which clings to the cliffs of the Levanto on the Italian Riviera coastline, I tried my first dish of the famous Ligurian pesto with pasta. They say that this is the region that invented pesto and the beautifully fresh and vibrant green sauce is often served simply with pasta and a little, or a lot of parmesan.
The good news is that pesto is actually quite nutritious!
The traditional classic, Basil and Pinenut, is full of omega 3 fatty acids found in the extra virgin olive oil and pinenuts, as well as fibre and B Vitamins. This makes it a great addition to your diet, with omega 3's being found to help improve brain cognition and memory as well as nerve function. B Vitamins are essential for the release of energy and fibre, well fibre is great for a healthy bowel and lower cholesterol.
Homemade VS DIY Pesto
Making your own pesto with fresh ingredients means that you are eating an incredibly fresh sauce without excess salt or refined sugars and void of fillers, preservatives and anything else you don't want in your pesto. You know exactly what has gone into making this pesto!
The beauty of a pesto is that you can make it out of anything you like!
So, if you are vegan - swap the Parmesan to nutritional yeast. And if you are allergic to specific nuts - use seeds or skip the nuts entirely and add extra of everything else!
Also, while the colour green is amazing - you shouldn't let that limit your imagination.
I chose basil and pepitas as I love both of these ingredients and I find the texture of the pepitas to be wonderful and smooth. Pepitas are also a great source of magnesium and zinc!
Plus, as many people usually buy store-bought pesto they will think you are amazing - even though it is such a simple recipe.
Some more recipes which I love include:
Spinach, basil, pinenut & parmesan
Beetroot, feta & walnut
Raw Brocolli, pinenut, basil & parmesan
BBQ Eggplant,cumin, pepitas & parmesan
Basil & Pepita Pesto
Makes 1 cup of thick pesto - perfect for sandwhiches, toast or a cheese platter!
1 tablespoon can be stirred through pasta or sauteed vegetables with a little extra olive oil to thin it out - or used as a marinade.
- 1/2 cup pepitas
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 cups washed and picked basil leaves
- 1/4 cup parmesan
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- A little pepper to taste
Add the pepitas and lemon juice to the blender/food processor and blend until combined.
Adding the olive oil little by little continue, pour in the rest of the ingredients and to blitz until you have your desired consistency.
You may need to add a little extra olive oil or lemon juice for a smoother pesto.
Keep in the fridge in a lidded jar for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 6 months.
Do you have any pesto recipes or recommendations you would love to share??