Jim's Pesto

I’ve got a confession to make.  I’m not a huge fan of salad.  Actually, the problem is more that I don’t like making salads.  This could mean that I don’t get enough leafy green vegetables.  However, I’ve discovered homemade pesto is a great way to make sure you still get your fill of leafy greens. 

Remember a while back when we posted about a holiday gift guide?  One of the items on there was a blender or food processor.  A blender or food processor makes it really easy to pack a bunch of nutrients into a meal.  Everyone is familiar of that idea when it comes to smoothies – blend up a variety of fruits and you’ve got a nutrient packed drink.  Pesto is just another example.  

When you think of pesto, you probably think of a traditional pesto you buy at the store.  That pesto is usually a combination of basil, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese.  There are a number of other different combinations though, and you can use these different combinations to pack your diet full of leafy greens. 

For example, try blending a couple handfuls of raw arugula, ~1/4 cup of toasted almonds, ~2 tablespoons parmesan, 2 garlic cloves, juice from half a lemon, and ~1/4 cup olive oil.  Or a couple handfuls of raw spinach, ~1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds, a roasted poblano pepper (with the skin peeled), ~1/2 cup cilantro, ~1/4 cup of feta or cotija cheese, juice from a lime, and ~1/4 cup olive oil.  You can also use a heartier green (like kale) but will probably want to cook it a bit first to soften the flavor.  A vegan version is also easy enough to make by substituting nutritional yeast for the cheese. 

These homemade pesto recipes can then be used on all sorts of foods from pizza, pasta, risotto, toast, etc.  The combinations are endless which helps to keep things interesting.  Below is one of my favorite recipes for peach season.  It’ll keep your taste buds happy while getting you the nutrients you need.  Enjoy!  And thanks for reading!

Peaches and Pesto

·      1 lb penne pasta

·      1lb chicken cut into bite sized pieces

·      3-4 slices prosciutto or bacon cut into bite sized pieces

·      2-3 sliced peaches

·      ~4oz Goat cheese

For the Pesto…

·      Couple handfuls arugula

·      ~1/4 cup toasted almonds

·      ~2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

·      2 garlic cloves

·      Juice from half a lemon

·      ~1/4 cup olive oil

Get a big pot of water boiling and cook the pasta.  While the pasta cooks, heat some olive oil in a pan.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook (and bacon, if using).  Transfer the cooked chicken to a bowl.  Add more oil to the pan if needed.  Sauté the peaches until soft and remove from heat. 

To make the pesto, add arugula, toasted almonds, parmesan, garlic, and lemon juice to food processor.  Blend the ingredients and while the food processor is running, add olive oil until it reaches desired consistency (if using a blender instead of food processor, you’ll need to add the oil with the other ingredients to get them to blend. Can also chop the ingredients by hand for a more textured pesto). 

Combine cooked pasta with chicken, prosciutto (or bacon), and pesto.  Mix.  Add the goat cheese and peaches, and enjoy!