Cooking healthy foods isn’t rocket science, but it isn’t always easy either. And eating healthy foods isn’t much easier if it isn’t tasty. Or, if it’s tasty, but it’s the same tasty healthy recipe you’ve been making all year, and now it’s boring. So, let’s do something that’s easy to make and easy to eat and easy to switch up when you’re over it.
PESTO! Which you already knew because TITLES. Pesto is super easy to make — you pretty much cannot screw it up — it keeps really well (in the fridge for a while, in the freezer for longer), and you can make a bunch of different kinds so you don’t get bored. It’s a great way to flavor your food without using sugary sauces or dressings you find at the store (and trust me, even if it’s a savory sauce….check the label. It’s probs sugary).
Pesto doesn’t need to be your typical basil / pine nut / parmesan cheese formula. I actually never put cheese in mine, because it’s just as flavorful without it, it will keep longer, and it’s better for you without it. And trust me, cheese is my favorite food, but pesto really is just as good without it. If even I can ditch it on this one, you sure can. SO ANYWAY.
The pesto I make is usually comprised of four main categories: a green thing, a nut, garlic, and olive oil. I rarely measure, because you can just keep adding one thing or another til you like the consistency. Plus I usually end up using something that I didn’t use all of in some other recipe. Pesto is a great re-purposing tool.
SO ANYWAY. Here are some ingredients that are great pesto makers.
- Pine Nut
- Sun-Dried Tomato
- Lemon Juice
- Roasted Garlic (if you have time to roast your garlic, DO THIS. Take a whole head, cut like 1/2 inch off the top so the cloves are exposed, drizzle olive oil, wrap it in foil, and roast at 400 for 45min. It’s mild and buttery and you can use way more of it than you would raw garlic–I used the whole head)
- Roasted Red Peppers
Now to make the pesto, here are your steps. You’ll just need a blender or food processor.
- Choose 1 or more items from category Green Things (combos are great here. Basil + Parsley, or Kale + Basil, or Cilantro + Spinach; just do what you got)
- Choose 1 item from Nuts — or leave nuts out if you’re allergic, or want to reduce calories, or want a smoother texture.
- Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil
- Add a clove of garlic (or a bunch, if they’re roasted)
- If you dare, add something from the Wildcard category (avocado makes a really creamy pesto, sun-dried tomato is zesty and summery, lemon juice can help bring out the flavor in basil or pesto…just try some!)
- Add a little salt and pepper
- Taste. If you want it to be more coarse, add more nuts. If you want it thinner, add a little water, or more olive oil, or lemon juice. If it needs more zing add another clove of garlic. Just mess with it til you like it.
- Put it on stuff: baked chicken, white beans, zucchini pasta, spaghetti squash, sandwiches, collard green wraps, scrambled eggs (yup), grilled shrimp, spoon some on soup, sliced vegetables, as a salad dressing, and so on.
So, that was pretty easy. It will keep for about a week in the fridge (make sure it’s in an airtight container) or at least 6 months in the freezer (again, airtight). It will help stay fresher if you drizzle a layer of olive oil over the top of the pesto to help prevent the herbs from oxidizing (this is what makes them lose their bright green color). If you’re super into aesthetics, you can blanche your herbs / greens first (submerge in boiling water and then immediately in an ice bath) before putting them in your pesto, and their color will stay more vibrant longer. SO FANCY.
Make a shit ton of this and always have some on hand, either in the fridge or freezer, so you never get sad about needing to find something healthy and flavorful. You can pretty much add this to any boring old thing and it’ll liven it up.
If y’all gots other wildcards, let me know! Always looking for ways to jazz this shit up.