Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Basil-Almond Pesto

I can't believe it's been a week since I last posted.  I'm so sorry for that and promise to keep them coming this week.  With that said, I thought I would start off with something wonderful that could be used all week for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Pesto is such a versatile ingredient that I just had to make it and share.  I have to admit in the past I have tried many different recipes but was never satisfied with the way it has turned out.  It was usually too salty or just lacked flavor and texture.  So in search for the best techniques and ingredients to use to make the perfect pesto I came across a recipe from Country Living.  It is simple and fresh.  Modifying a few things to my personal taste I created this delicious Basil Almond Pesto.

The pesto was so yummy on its own and perfect to serve with a french baguette or crackers for a party.  However, I found myself adding it to my toast in the morning, sandwiches and roasted veggies in the afternoon and to a spaghetti squash (that had been sitting on our counter for weeks) for dinner.  The freshness of the basil and lemon are a perfect match with the earthiness of the almonds which give it a fantastic texture.  Seeing that we still have some left, I am thinking about baking it into pork chops or adding it to some rice or quinoa for extra flavor and serve with a grilled salmon.  OR, mixing it with some greek yogurt would make a wonderful veggie dip or pasta sauce for that matter.  The options are endless!  I would love to hear what you decide to do with it.

Basil-Almond Pesto

1 cup (tightly packed and heaping) organic basil, chopped
1/2 cup raw almonds, sliced or roughly chopped (I use Trader Joe's Raw Sliced Almonds)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1-2 large cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup high quality extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest (about 1 small lemon)

In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the extra-virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice and lemon zest. Set aside.   In a food processor place the organic basil, almonds, parmesan cheese, garlic and salt.  Pulse until well combined.  Next, slowly add the oil mixture to the basil mixture and pulse again until well combined and oil has been absorbed.  Makes about 1 cup.  A little goes a long way.

Note:  Pesto will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks and in the freezer for up to 3 months.