Oh, my the joys of summertime! Fresh tomatoes on the vine, cold cucumbers and lots and lots of fresh herbs. We have been eating a tremendous amount of tomatoes, cucumbers and basil at our house this last week or two.
If you have not explored making pesto at home, you must give it a try. It jazzes up any grilled meat, is great on pasta or even just spread on bread and run under the broiler. Pesto is so versatile, it even freezes well. It's also very forgiving, pairing well with lots of different ingredients that all add up to pesto. The traditional recipe calls for pine nuts, but I find that toasted walnuts work just as well. Adding in other herbs will change it up a little, but it will still be delish Here is a good basic, lower fat pesto recipe that I make all the time.
Basic Pesto Sauce
1/2 c. packed basil leaves
1/2 c. packed baby spinach leaves
2 T. toasted pine nuts or walnuts
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 - 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
about 1/3 c. low sodium, fat free chicken broth
1/2 c. fresh grated parmesan
a little fresh ground black pepper
Toast your nuts: put them into a small, dry, non-stick stick frying pan over medium heat. Let them heat up until you start to smell them. Watch closely so you don't burn them!
In a food processor or blender, combine the basil, spinach, garlic and nuts. Pour in a little bit of the chicken broth, just enough to get things going. Start your machine, and add in the parmesan cheese through the chute or top vent of a blender. Drizzle in the olive oil and a little pepper. Add some more broth until you get the consistency that you like.
This is a recipe you must make relying on your senses -- watch how the ingredients come together and add liquid as needed. Does it look a little watery? Add some more parmesan. Too thick? Add a little more broth. Taste it -- does it taste good? Add a little more basil, fresh pepper or olive oil. Pulse the machine on and off, and scrape down the sides as needed.
The rule of thumb is that you need about 1 T. pesto sauce for each 1/2 c. of pasta. My family loves this served on spinach and cheese ravioli or over fettucine. It's great on grilled tuna too.
Feel free to expirement with this one. Try adding a few oil packed sundried tomatoes. I like to put in some fresh garlic chives from my garden.