“Pesto is such a great standard. It’s so simple to make and always tastes good.” – Tamra Davis
The Simplicity of Pesto
Unless your Italian, pesto is one of those sauces that you rarely give a thought to. And that is such a shame. Adding a little pesto to your steak or seafood can make a huge difference. Used as a topping on a baked potato can be a culinary break-through for your palate. Add a little to your eggs to make them pop with unexpected flavor or use pesto traditionally as a pasta sauce. The ways of incorporating a little pesto in your diet is endless, so do yourself a huge favor and master the art with this basic basil pesto recipe. Before you know it, you will be adding this pesto to many dishes. And did I mention just how easy it is to make pesto? You basically just add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until you have reached your desired consistency. Transfer to a resealable jar and store in the fridge for convenient use when you need it.
Basic Basil Pesto Nutrition
Basic basil pesto consists entirely of fresh basil, parmesan cheese, pine nuts (or a variation, but I will get to that in a moment), garlic and a good quality olive oil. Pesto can be purchased in most grocery stores, but I highly recommend you try making it at home. As mentioned above, it is super easy to make and there is no substitute for the fresh taste. Since I like to keep things real, I am going to be honest and tell you there are some pro’s and con’s to consuming pesto. On the pro side, pesto contains Vitamin’s A, E, and K. Vitamin A helps protect the eyes, vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and vitamin K helps prevent our arteries from hardening. As for the con’s, pesto is high in calories with one half cup contributing more than 850 calories. However, when you think about the calorie content take the time to consider the serving size. In most cases you will not use more than a table spoon of pesto which is about 80 calories. The exception to this would be as a pasta sauce, but a half cup will cover enough pasta for 4 servings. And finally, pesto is high in fat. This last point is debatable as a pro or con as the fat is unsaturated fats which we all need. The fat that is derived from the olive oil and the nuts is unsaturated and considered to be healthy fats. Unsaturated fats may help to lower cholesterol levels. So, in my humble opinion the positive of eating a dab of pesto here and a dab of pesto there far outweigh the negative.
While this recipe is for a traditional basic basil pesto there are several variations that can be made. You can substitute the basil with arugula, kale or spinach. Make it your own by combining greens. Mix basil with arugula or spinach. Switch out the pine nuts for walnuts, almonds or pepitas. Whichever you do, just do it.
“The pesto and angel hair are warm in the bowl on my lap, the fragrances of olive oil and basil blending the exotic and familiar, equal parts sunny Tuscan hillside and hometown dirt. A meal like this makes you want to live forever, if only for the scent of warm pesto in January.” Michael Perry