Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Whole-some Weekends: Pesto & Pistou

My father has been making this pesto every fall for as long as I can remember. In energetic years past our family has been known to fill bags full of basil and produce more pesto than some small Italian villages.

These days our own garden has only a few but very productive basil bushes and every September we harvest the leaves and make pesto in large batches and freeze it in Seal-o-Matic bags. The supply lasts over the winter and into the following spring. Freezing seems to enhance the flavour not damage it. 

Don't be fooled into thinking that pesto is only for pasta. This aromatic sauce is great on grilled salmon or chicken breast (put the meat in a tented foil package with the pesto on top and bake or BBQ), a tasty sauce for home-made pizza, or a yummy accompaniment to cheese and fresh tomatoes. I also use it in salad dressing with a little bit of oil and lemon juice - this is pretty fantastic over a bed of field greens with avocados, tomatoes, local bacon and toasted walnuts. Or just splash a large spoonful into soups or sauces for a little zing. 

This year we substituted walnuts for the more traditional pine nuts. In part because walnuts cost less but also because we wanted to get that nutrient power-punch that walnuts provide. Walnuts are a rich source of vitamin E, Omega-3 fats, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, copper, protein, fibre and melatonin. Their multiple antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds are protective against diabetes, heart disease, and many cancers. Guess those Mediterranean folks were onto something when they made walnuts a regular part of their diet. 

The pistachio pesto is cheese free and the french pistou is nut free for those with allergies or a specific recipe. 

Dad's Traditional Pesto
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt
4 cups packed basil leaves
1 cup walnuts toasted (or pine nuts)
1 1/4 cups grated fresh parmesan cheese
1 1/3 cups of extra virgin olive oil 

Toast the walnuts in the oven at 325 degrees F for 10 minutes stirring once at the 5 minute mark. Blend garlic and salt in a food processor, add basil and process, add nuts and parmesan and process. With food processor running pour the olive oil in a steady stream through the feeding tube. Eat or freeze. Can also be stored in the fridge for up to 3 months in a jar with a layer of olive oil over the surface.

Pistachio Pesto
4 cloves of garlic
2 tsp of salt
grated rind from 2 lemons
1 1/4 cups natural roasted pistachios shelled (or walnuts toasted - see above)
2 cups packed basil leaves
1 cup parsley
1 cup Italian parsley (flat leaf)
1 1/3 cups olive oil
2 tbsp of lemon juice

Blend garlic and salt in food processor, add lemon and process, add nuts and process, add basil and parsleys and process. With food processor running pour the olive oil in a steady stream through the feeding tube then add the lemon juice. See storage options above. 

French Pistou
6 to 8 cloves of garlic (how brave are you?)
1 tsp salt
4 cups packed basil leaves
1 1/3 cups packed Italian flat leaf parsley
grated rind from 2 lemons
1 1/4 cups grated Romano cheese
1 1/3 cups extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground pepper

Blend garlic and salt in food processor, add basil and process, add parsley and process, add lemon rind and cheese and process. With food processor running pour the olive oil in a steady stream through the feeding tube. See storage options above.  

Thanks for reading Getting Healthy with NP Sam. Comments are welcome - click the pencil icon below. 

1 comment:

Max MacDonald said...

These variations look very tasty... will have to give 'em a try, thanks! I tend to play fast & loose with pesto... always loads of garlic and lemon, but I'll work with finely chopped almonds and will hapilly substitute fresh spinach and dried basil flakes for fresh basil... and it's very, very yummy indeed. Reminds me, I have to make a fresh batch soon. The other thing is, make it and freeze batches, by all means - but only add your grated parm, asiago or reggiano when you're ready to make a meal.