Summer is winding down, but our garden is still flourishing. Herbs like basil and mint are very simple to grow, even for an amateur gardener. And once they start growing, they don’t stop. Pesto is a quick and easy way to use all those extra herbs, as well as any herbs and greens you have sitting in your fridge. In addition to basil and mint, I added some parsley and spinach to my pesto to add some earthy flavor. Instead of the classic use of pine nuts, I used almonds because that’s what I had on hand. Some quality extra virgin olive oil and grated parmesan and you’re done! Toss with some pasta and you’ve got the perfect summer night meal.
Oh yeah. I did sneak in a little extra something-nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast can be found at most health food stores. It’s popular amongst vegetarians and vegans, as it’s a great source of protein, folic acid, amino acids, and B vitamins. It yields a salty, cheesy flavor so pesto is a perfect recipe to sneak some into for extra nutrition. It’s also great sprinkled on popcorn, salads, and stirred into sauces.
Summer Garden Pesto
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: None Yields: About 2 cups of Pesto
- 2 cups packed fresh herbs/greens (combination of mint, basil, flat leaf parsley, spinach)
- 1/3 cup almonds (toasting is optional, but recommended)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
- salt and pepper
Instructions: In a blender, combine the herbs, almonds, garlic, parmesan, and nutritional yeast. Pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Add the olive oil and blend until it is fully incorporated. Taste the pesto before adding salt, as the parmesan is already slightly salty. Season to taste and serve immediately.
Pesto can be stored in an air tight container for future use. You can also extend the life of your pesto by freezing it. Simply pour into ice cube trays. Store the pesto ice cubes in a zip-lock bag or air tight container. You’ll have tasty pesto cubes ready to be thawed and used up to 3 months later!
Here’s how it came together:
This recipe makes enough pesto to generously coat 1 pound of dry pasta. It’s delicious enough to be served simply over pasta, but if you’re feeling adventurous…
- Use pesto as a marinade or sauce for grilled chicken or fish
- Use it as a dressing for chilled pasta salad
- Dress heirloom tomatoes and fresh mozzarella with pesto for a fresh summer caprese salad
- Step up your sandwich game with pesto mayo
The options go on! Enjoy!
Abeer Najjar is Layali’s Food blogger. She is an amateur cook and food lover by way of her mother, imagination and old-school cooking shows. She is an Arab-American/south-side Chicagoan hybrid, a sucker for fried foods and a fiend for good coffee accompanied by great conversation. Check out her blog at www.abeernajjar.com.