Garden Jam: Pesto Presto!

20 09 2009
Basil leaves (Ocimum basilicum).

Image via Wikipedia

My herbs are in full thunder, and this weekend, it was time to start the mass-cutting and enter the putting-by phase.

First in: Basil. Basil leaves don’t freeze well, and I’ve never had much success drying the herb. But give me basil, pine nuts and good extra virgin olive oil and basil transforms into pesto, an earthy sauce I use all year long. My freezer just isn’t complete if it doesn’t hold a couple containers of frozen pesto waiting to perk up my winter! I love pesto so much that in years when my garden basil under-performs, I buy basil to make pesto. Even at the cost of fresh basil bunches, the resulting pesto is worth it!

I first improvised this Citrus Pesto recipe several years ago when my basil crop did so well that I was able to give jars of pesto to friends. I published it on the low carb Protein Power support forums (yep, that’s me — Gaelen!) because pesto is one of those condiments which is safely on plan and gives a protein boost to vegetable dishes. This recipe includes complete nutritional information obtained from Mastercook(R) recipe analysis software. If you’d like to see more of my low-carb recipes, visit the Protein Power website, and check out the Let’s Cook area of the discussion forums. Forum members can search on my username (Gaelen) and my recipes will come up.

Since Pesto is traditionally topped with and contains extra virgin olive oil, it’s safest to preserve it by freezing the containers. Once thawed, keep refrigerated and keep the pesto sauce covered with extra virgin olive oil. Use within three weeks. I’ve also frozen my pesto sauce, without the olive oil coating, in ice cube trays. Each ice cube of pesto equals about 1 tablespoon; freeze the pesto in an ice cube tray, and you can pull it from the freezer one piece of summer at a time.

Citrus Pesto

4g protein, 2g ECC per 1/4 cup serving
Serving Size : 1/4 cup, serves 6

Preparation Time : 20 min.
Categories : sauce, vegetarian

3 cups fresh basil leaves — packed, no stems
1/3 cup pine nuts (pignolia) — toasted
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup lime juice — (or lemon, or orange)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • Toast the pine nuts in a hot dry pan. When they are golden brown and aromatic, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  • Wash the basil leaves and spin or pat dry. Use the freshest possible leaves, and no stems.
  • Put the garlic, pine nuts, half the cheese, half the basil, the salt and the lime juice in a food processor and pulse briefly until the volume of the basil is reduced by about half. Add the rest of the basil and half of the olive oil. Put the food processor on continuous grind, and drizzle the balance of the olive oil into the mixture. Continue to process the mixture until it’s a fine paste.
  • Divide the pesto into 4-oz. narrow-mouth canning jars or plastic freezer-safe food storage containers (fills about three, with head space.) Cover the pesto in each container with a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil (just to cover all the pesto in the container.) Seal tightly and freeze the pesto for up to six months, or keep refrigerated and use within three weeks.
  • Magic Bullet directions: layer in the tall cup in this order–basil leaves, pine nuts, lime juice, olive oil, cheese, garlic cloves. Pulse until creamy and all chopped up (you will need to shake and tap to get all the basil down into the mix and chopped up.

Recipe makes about 1 1/4 cups
Per Serving : 150 Calories; 14g Fat (82.1% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 3mg Cholesterol; 84mg Sodium.

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2 responses

20 09 2009

I’ve never made my own pesto before. How absolutely DUH of me!

20 09 2009

If you asked me what sauce I couldn’t live without, it would be a tie between a simple white sauce and pesto. Now I just have to figure out what to do with a bushel of sage…!

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