Healthy Basil Pesto

14 Dec

pesto

I am so proud of myself for using ALL of a package of fresh herbs this week.  Between a BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad (recipe to come), Lentil Soup (recipe to come), and this Pesto, that packaging once abundant with basil happily made its way to the recycle without a trip to trash to dump any not-so-fresh herb first.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE pesto, but sadly I don’t eat it too much because I envision a whole bottle of OO in it and think about OO being healthy…in moderation.  After the salad and the soup, it hit me that I should find a healthy version and make my own to have on a sandwich with chicken breast deli meat we had for the week.  I found a jackpot of a recipe on the Eating Well website.  The texture ended up being what I’d deem best for sandwiches or other spreads.  It was a bit thick/ chunky for a pasta in my opinion, but for a sandwich or pizza you’d be good to go!  I believe many basil pestos are made with pine nuts which are pretty pricey and can be challenging to find sometimes.  This recipes calls for toasted walnuts which are packed with omega-3.  So before you reach for mayo, mustard, or even avocado, think about whipping up some of this pesto for your next turkey or chicken breast sandwich.  The best part? How delicious it is for just 83 calories/8 g fat ( 1 g saturated) per 2 TBSP servings!

Ingredients:

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Yields 1 cup

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves,  (2-3 bunches)
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted*
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese ( I used Parmesan Romano- just as well)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 large clove garlic, quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions:

1) Place basil, walnuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, oil, water, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor; pulse a few times, then process until fairly smooth, or to the desired consistency, scraping down the sides occasionally.

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Before

IMG_20121212_125303_035

and After

*To toast walnuts: Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly browned, 7 to 9 minutes.

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