Basil pesto has always been one of those things that I have thought of as a `special occasion’ item; a bit of a treat; and definitely not cheap to buy. Then of course there is the ingredients list in some of the store bought ones. They’re not all `clean’.
With the fact that we’re fortunate enough to live in a climate where basil grows all year round, how easy it is to make, and the health benefits of basil, it was time to make my own. Now, there is hardly a time when we don’t have a jar in the fridge. It’s a great dip to have with fresh vegetables.
What about those health benefits of basil? There are huge lists but you can sum them up with the following:
- it has anti-inflammatory properties
- it has anti-bacterial capabilities
- it has anti-oxidant properties
- and boosts the immune system
- it’s a good source of magnesium which promotes cardio-vascular health
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 – 4 big handfuls of fresh basil
- 160 grams raw pine nuts
- 80 mls extra virgin olive oil
- 40 mls white wine vinegar
- a pinch of salt
- 4 Tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
Put all ingredients into the food processor and pulse several times until the ingredients are chopped and well combined. It’s as simple as that.
We make this in the Thermomix.
- Grate the cheese first. Cut into chunks and blitz on speed 8 for about 10 seconds. Set aside.
- Put all the other ingredients into the bowl. Pulse on Turbo 2 or 3 times. Add the cheese and pulse agin until mixed through.
- If you’re a bit short on basil you can add some spinach and/or parsley to make up the amount
- Use raw, unsalted cashews instead of pine nuts
- Throw in a small handful of raw macadamia nuts
- Use coconut vinegar instead of white wine vinegar
All of these variations will give you slightly different flavours. The idea is to experiment till you find the one (or many) that is `just right’ for you. Store in the fridge in an airtight jar. It will keep for about a week. (Not that I’ve ever had any last that long!!)
One of the ways that we love to use basil pesto is with cherry tomatoes. Just cut the top of the tomato, scoop out the centre and fill with pesto. These are a great healthy finger food, or can be served as part of a salad meal. These look fantastic with the red and green adding to the festive look for that healthy, paleo Christmas meal.
Remember, this is something that you can make in advance, so beat the rush and get it done now.