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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Summer Herb Bounty Becomes Pesto-lite 

If your garden looks anything like this:

you may be interested a use for all that overflowing basil. Check out this guest post on a lightened up version of pesto, courtesy of Scenes from My Lunch Hour.

With all the rain we've had of late, my herb garden has exploded. Seeing all that basil of course created an instant pesto-craving. Since pesto is kind of a fattening recipe, as far as sauces go, I decided to try to lighten it up a bit.

First I gathered a bunch of basil and parsley from my garden. I figured having a bit of parsley in there mellowing the basil would help to counteract the fact that I was going to add some sharp tastes (garlic and lemon, among others). Into the food processor went basil, parsley, garlic cloves and walnuts (they are cheaper and healthier than pine nuts and work just as well!) In addition to zesting the lemon, I also squeezed a few tablespoons of lemon juice into the food processor to replace some of the oil. Then the ever-delicious parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Instead of using a cup of extra virgin olive oil (like these proportions would normally call for), I only used about 2/3 of a cup (maybe even a little less) because of the lemon juice. Rather than just dump this in, I poured it in slowly through the mouth of the food processor while the herbs, nuts and cheese were spinning. I think this helped me be more stingy because it made use of the liquid as needed. The finished pesto came out to the perfect consistency:

While I was assembling the pesto and boiling the pasta, I had decided I needed to add some veggies so it was not all carb, nut and cheese. I quick trimmed some green beans and halved some cherry tomatoes, tossed them with salt and pepper and a teensy bit of olive oil, and threw them in the oven for 13 minutes at 400 degrees. Here’s a before and after shot:

And here's how the whole dish looked when put together:

Here's the full recipe for the pesto:

Summer Pesto-lite

Ingredients (pesto): - 3 cups fresh basil - 1 cup fresh parsley - four garlic cloves, crushed, peeled and cut in half - zest from 1 medium lemon - 2 to 3 tbsps lemon juice - 3/4 cup shelled walnuts - 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated - 1/2 tsp salt - 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions: blend all ingredients in food processor until smooth. stop a few times and push the non-blended herbs down from the sides of the processor with a spatula. This will make 2x the sauce you need for the pasta & veggie portions below. My friend Jeff cleverly recommended using the extra on sandwiches, in dips, or (my personal fave) on a homemade pizza.

Check out Scenes from My Lunch Hour for more pics.

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