Pesto is one of my favorite condiments to keep on hand. is the bounty of fresh herbs that are just outside my doorstep. Fresh herbs make any meal instantly more flavorful and beautiful. SO Try these easy, fun pesto recipe I like to dollop it on grilled vegetables, pasta, spaghetti squash, salads, eggs, toasted bread, pizza, sandwiches… you get the idea. With just a few easy steps, it makes anything an instant tasty meal whether you feel like cooking or not.
What is Pesto?
Pesto is a type of Italian sauce that traditionally contains garlic, pine nuts, basil, olive oil, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. The ingredients are mixed together in a blender to create a thick purée that you can then heat up in a saucepan.
This healthy sauce will sometimes vary in its ingredients depending on the Italian region it’s made in. Some chefs might include lemon juice, pistachios, ricotta, or fennel in their pesto version.
The Health Benefits of Pesto : There are many interesting health benefits that pesto has.
- It’s Packed with Antioxidants
Thanks to ingredients like basil and garlic, pesto is packed with numerous antioxidants. This will not only help you to stay healthy, but prevent serious illnesses, like cancer, from developing.
- It Can Help Normalize Your Blood Pressure
Pesto can also help to normalize your blood pressure. This is because of the pine nuts and garlic mixed into it which have been proven to help keep your arteries healthy.
It’s a Good Source of Calcium
Parmigiano-Reggiano is a good source of calcium and also contains Vitamin D which not only keeps your bones healthy, but helps your intestines to better absorb vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, and magnesium.
- It Keeps Your Heart Strong
Another benefit of pesto is that it keeps your heart strong. Thanks to it containing high amounts of Omega-3, it encourages your heart to function properly which reduces your risk of stroke and heart disease.
The Best Basil to Use for Pesto
Did you know there are 60 different varieties of basil? Luckily, most stores only sell one or two kinds, making it easy to choose. Thai basil is really the only kind that’s too pungent for this recipe. When buying fresh basil, look for vibrant green leaves with no sports or wilting.
Dried basil is fine for flavoring sauces, soups, and other dishes. But its flavor is very different from fresh basil. You need fresh basil leaves to make pesto.
Authentic Pesto Recipe
- 250g basil leaves and stalks To measure basil, just discard the thicker stems and lightly pack the leaves down into a measuring cup.
- 100g pine nuts Lightly toasted, to bring out the flavor.
- 120g Parmesan cheese Freshly grated for maximum flavor. (Or you can use pre-grated cheese to save a step, but I would recommend adding in a bit more since it’s not as flavorful).
- 3 clove garlic, minced No need to mince, your blender or food processor will do that for you.
- 350ml extra virgin olive oil I recommend using good-quality oil for the best flavor.
- ¼ teaspoon of mince sea salt Probably the biggest mistake people make with homemade pesto is not seasoning it enough, so be sure to taste and add more salt
- ⅓ teaspoon black ground pepper the same comment for black ground pepper
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Toast pine nuts in a dry skillet or frying pan until fragrant and golden, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Place pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese (if using), basil leaves, and lemon juice,salt,black pepper in a food processor. Pulse until all ingredients are well chopped. With food processor running, drizzle in olive oil until smooth. (Add some additional olive oil if needed to help everything blend.)