Basil is growing really well this time of year so why not make yourself some healthy pesto!?
So what makes this pesto so healthy?
Lets start with the hero of the dish, basil. Basil is a rich source of many essential vitamins and minerals and antioxidant flavanoids, two of which have been shown to protect cells and DNA from radiation. Seeing as we are surrounded by radiation from the various forms of (mostly wireless) technology to which we have grown accustomed, this is surely a good thing.
Kale, well other than being the most fashionable vegetable on the planet right now, it is very nourishing (especially in the calcium and iron department) and adds another dimension of health giving nutrients. For this reason, I add it to my pesto as it’s flavour sits well behind the very pungent basil. For kids, this means they don’t know they are eating a vegetable they might ordinarily, never touch.
I also add sunflower seeds, again, more nutrition than using just one nut! Though I have added a nut free version below for school lunch box inclusion.
Makes about 1 cup of pesto
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
50 grams parmesan cheese, finely grated (dairy free version below)
2 large handfuls of basil (leaves picked and washed)
1 large handful of kale (leaves torn from the stems)
30 gram (¼ cup) sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
30 gram (¼ cup) cashew nuts, lightly toasted
Sea salt and Pepper
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Juice of half a lemon (zest optional)
You can make this in a mortar and pestle but I prefer to use my blender (or any good food processor will do the job) as I like a textured pesto. You can grate and crush your parmesan and garlic by hand or in your food processor.
Add the basil and kale. Pulse until almost chopped.
Then add the cashews and sunflower seeds. A couple more pulses should see it combined nicely.
Lastly season well and mix through your lemon juice and EV olive oil. Too easy!
Add a small red chilli or even half a red capsicum for a vitamin C boost.
Dairy free and vegan - Omit the parmesan. I’d suggest adding some nutritional yeast for cheese flavour and even ground macadamia nuts to replace the parmesan, but that’s optional too.
Nut free - Replace the cashews with the same amount of sunflower seeds.