Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hey Pesto!

Developed and mastered over many years in Northern Italy, pesto has very humble beginnings and today it’s an unknown super food snack eaten everywhere. I did some digging into what made pesto, pesto and what it was that made it so healthy. The primary ingredient basil is an antioxidant and is used to treat stress the Eastern world. Olive oil is a good fat, known to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and for skincare, all over the world. Pine nuts contain vitamins A, C and D and fight free radicals in the body, preventing long term illness. They are also high in protein and magnesium. Garlic is known for reducing blood pressure and protecting the heart. The health benefits of these ingredients are endless, and make pesto that much better!
I have done a basic pesto blend here, but tastes and diets are always so varied, so I have included a table with some popular alternatives. All alternatives have been taken from historical and modern dietary recipes. You can use pesto with pasta, meats and salads – whatever you need really.
Sauces and dips are best made with pure intuition, so use the recipe as a guide, so taste, smell and touch; it’s really all about what flavors you enjoy more. Pesto can be stored in air tight jars, sealed with olive oil. The shelf life is generally one to two weeks, refrigerated. Alternatively you can freeze pesto!
Serves four
2 bunches basil
2 cloves of garlic
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup walnuts
½ cup parmesan cheese
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

There are secrets to ignite huge flavors in a pesto. The first is to start by blanching your basil leaves in salted water. Do so by pouring boiling water through basil in a colander, then shocking into ice cold water. This helps the basil retain its freshness. You can use either a pulse blender or a mortar pestle. Start by pulsing your basil, follow by adding half the olive oil. The second secret to a great pesto is to toast your nuts slightly, to bring out the warmth and depth in flavour. Add to the blender with garlic and cheese and pulse again. Finish by stirring through lemon, salt and pepper to taste. You may need to add the remaining olive oil. Be sure to use good olive oil for taste.