The best basil pesto recipe going, and the most nourishing! A bold statement I know but it is rather delicious and definitely has a more extensive nutritional profile than its (also healthy) traditional version. It is gluten and grain free and I have also included dairy and nut-free variations too.
So what makes this pesto so healthy?
Let’s start with the hero of the dish, basil. Basil is a rich source of many essential vitamins and minerals and antioxidant flavonoids, 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.
One more ‘Well Nourished’ touch is that I 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)
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.
Replace the kale with spinach
Which is also very nutritious and I think has a much milder flavour than kale.
Replace the cashews with the same amount of sunflower seeds.
The pesto mixed through a grain free black bean noodle with fresh tomatoes and chilli – delicious and so simple!
Share how you eat pesto. Post a comment below, it’s simple.
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