Pesto, 3 Ways

by in Robin's Healthy Take, November 12, 2012

cilantro pesto on chicken
Basil pesto is excellent on practically anything – chicken, fish, beef, pork, vegetables. And it’s so easy to find prepared, if you don’t have time to make it from scratch you can still enjoy it. But what about other pesto varieties? Wouldn’t a dollop of Sage-Walnut Pesto on pork chops be nice in the fall? Or Cilantro-Almond Pesto with steak or chicken? How about refreshing Parsley-Lemon Pesto with fish or shellfish?

Check out my three recipes for pesto. The base for all three is the same (1 cup leaves, 1/2 cup nuts, 1/2 cup broth, 1 tablespoon oil, garlic, salt and pepper). The broth keeps the pesto nice and light. Once the basic ingredients are blended, I adjusted to create unique and sublime concoctions. I added ginger to the cilantro and almonds, Parmesan to the sage and walnuts, and lemon to the parsley and pine nuts. Take note, you’ll want to make big batches – these pestos last for at least one week in the refrigerator and they’re not just great for main dishes, they make excellent sandwich spreads and dips for crackers and vegetables.

Cilantro-Almond Pesto (above)
I serve this pesto over roasted chicken but it’s also amazing with steak and seafood. For a little heat, add 1 teaspoon wasabi paste.

1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the almonds in a small dry skillet and set the pan over medium heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the nuts are golden brown and toasted, shaking the pan frequently. Transfer the nuts to a blender and add the cilantro, broth, ginger, garlic and oil. Puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 1 cup
Nutrition Info Per Serving (2 tablespoons)
Calories: 58
Total Fat: 5 grams
Saturated Fat: Total Carbohydrate: 2 grams
Sugars: 0 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Sodium: 6 milligrams
Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
Fiber: 1 gram

Sage-Walnut Pesto
This pesto is excellent with roasted pork tenderloin, pork chops and roasted chicken.

1/2 cup walnut pieces
1 cup packed fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the walnuts in a small dry skillet and set the pan over medium heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the nuts are golden brown and toasted, shaking the pan frequently. Transfer the nuts to a blender and add the sage, broth, cheese, garlic and oil. Puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 1 cup
Nutrition Info Per Serving (2 tablespoons)
Calories: 70
Total Fat: 6.5 grams
Saturated Fat: Total Carbohydrate: 2 grams
Sugars: 0 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Sodium: 24 milligrams
Cholesterol: 1 milligram
Fiber: <1 gram

Parsley-Lemon Pesto
I like to spoon this pesto over roasted fish, shrimp, scallops and chicken.

1/2 cup pine nuts
1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lemon, juice and zest
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the pine nuts in a small dry skillet and set the pan over medium heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the nuts are golden brown and toasted, shaking the pan frequently. Transfer the nuts to a blender and add the parsley, broth, cheese, garlic, oil, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of the finely grated lemon zest. Puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 1 cup
Nutrition Info Per Serving (2 tablespoons)
Calories: 84
Total Fat: 8 grams
Saturated Fat: Total Carbohydrate: 2 grams
Sugars: 0 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Sodium: 28 milligrams
Cholesterol: 1 milligram
Fiber: 1 gram

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