Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pesto - Raw Food you may already eat

Yesterday was Meatless Monday, and I guess today is Italiano Tuesday.

I love pesto. Did you know it is often made raw, and can be made with any number of ingredients? I first fell in love with pesto as a child, but didn't know what was in it. Later, I started asking restaurants where I found it particularly delicious, what is in this stuff? And soon I realized it can be as simple as 3 little ingredients, olive oil, nuts, and basil. It can also have cheese in it like Parmigiana or Romano, but I don't think cheese would qualify as raw. I'll have to look that up. Anyway, I left it out of this recipe, as I figured it's easier to just shake some on and know the measurements since I keep track of exactly what I eat on at least 3 days a week. If you choose to add cheese, I'd add about 1/2 an ounce, taste, and see if you want more.

Today I made some with Thai Basil from my neighbor's garden, (Thanks Amy!) and some pistachios that needed to be used up. We have a tiny food processor, so here's the slightly more complex recipe I used:

1 cup of Thai basil (just the leaves, flowers and stems excluded) 
1/2 cup of green pistachios
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Spicy Pasta Olive Oil 

The Spicy Olive Oil is a seasoned oil from The Dipping Well, a locally owned store that just opened down the street from us near 26th Ave and Baseline I believe. It basically has roasted peppers, basil, and sea salt infusing the oil, so you could add the above to some olive oil if you're not in the Phoenix, AZ area.

Pulse a bit to begin mixing, adding olive oil between pulses, and then using a spatula, push ingredients down and pulse until it is the consistency you want. You may need to push it down a few times to get all the leaves and nuts well chopped and blended. I chose to use less olive oil than most recipes I've found, because I am watching my weight and pesto is a high fat food. All good fats, but still, something to be aware of. 

For lunch I had some on flaked salmon with wilted spinach and arugula and a pear. BtW, we got some amazing pears from a neighbor recently. DELICIOUS! If I had my aquaponics system up and running, I could have had everything grown at home or from neighbors. But we canned some of those pears, and today I gave a can to the wonderful lady who gives me as much basil as my heart desires. Why spend money on food, when you can share your excess with neighbors! I call it being neighborly, but I suppose in a way, it's a form of Freeganism. I am not freegan myself, but I try to incorporate as many sustainable practices in my life as I can. Step by step, I've been learning and adding more. 

Who knew Thai Basil would be so good in pesto! It has a more floral scent and taste than Italian Basil, but is very good. Everyone who has tried it today has enjoyed it. And I didn't end up putting any cheese on my meal, which means I can have some on my chicken spaghetti later for dinner. Hooray! 

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