Summer means vegetable gardens, vegetable gardens means basil, and basil means pesto.
The week leading up to any vacation for my family and I (and this is one of those weeks) is one filled with planning, preparing, and trying to accomplish all the last minute to-do’s. Just one thing on the list is eating up everything in the fridge and our vegetable garden in an effort to waste nothing. As I was planning my family’s weekly menu Monday, according to what we have in the fridge, I looked out into our now prosperous vegetable garden and noticed the basil. Basil is one of my favorite summer herbs, but is also one that will be growing rampant if gone untouched for a couple of weeks. And so in an effort to use as much basil before we left, I was inspired to make pesto.
Pesto serves so many benefits. It is a great addition to sandwiches, pasta, or as a marinade for meat and veggies, but my favorite part about pesto is how long it will last if stored properly. When stored in an air tight container, pesto can be refrigerated or frozen. The trick is to add a bit of oil before serving. I use walnuts in my pesto because they are less expensive and I tend to have them in my pantry more than pine nuts. My other secret ingredient is grape seed oil instead of everyday olive oil. The health benefits of grape seed oil are countless, but to name a few it is lower in saturated fat, helps lower your bad cholestoral, and is high in vitamin E and other antioxidants. When cooking, grape seed oil has a nutty taste that really helps the flavor of food come through. With such few ingredients and the fact that it can be done all in the food processor, I tend to make a couple batches of pesto and freeze all but one. What’s on tonight’s menu? Basil Walnut Pesto Chicken…I can’t wait!
Summer means basil and what better way to use it then in pesto. Walnuts are a less expensive alternative to pine nuts and add a crunchy and distinctive flavor, while grapeseed oil not only has countless health benefits, but really helps makes the flavor of the walnuts and basil come through. Pesto is one of my favorite additions to sandwiches, pasta, or as a marinade for meat.
- 2 cups packed basil leaves (around 2 ounces)
- 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
- ½ cup finely chopped walnuts
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or chopped
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Juice of half a lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a food processor, pulse together basil and walnuts. Pulsing as you go, add garlic, grapeseed oil, cheese, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Pulse until blended together.
Pesto should be stored in an air tight container in the fridge or freezer. When serving, you may need to add a bit of oil for the desired consistency.