Pesto Change-O: 3 New Twists on the Classic Recipe for This Iconic Flavor Booster

by in Healthy Recipes, April 19, 2016

Gone are the days when pesto was just a popular Italian condiment made with six classic ingredients: basil, pine nuts, Parmesan, olive oil, garlic and salt. While there’s nothing wrong with cooking it the old-school way, there’s plenty of reason to break down pesto into its basic flavor components (herb, nut and salt), swap in some different ingredients and give your recipes a whole new twist.

Buckwheat Sesame Noodles with Broccoli Pesto
Serves: 6

1/4 pound broccoli florets, blanched for 1 minute and drained
1/4 cup cashews, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and drained
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
3 tablespoons natural unsalted peanut butter
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons date sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 pound gluten-free buckwheat noodles, cooked and rinsed under cold water
Sesame seeds, toasted, for sprinkling, optional
Chopped peanuts, toasted, for sprinkling, optional

Place the broccoli, cashews, 1 clove garlic and cilantro in a blender; process to finely chop and, with the motor running, drizzle in the oil. Drizzle in about 2 tablespoons water and blend until smooth, adding more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary; season with salt.

Place the peanut butter, sesame oil, tamari, vinegar, sugar, crushed red pepper, ginger and remaining 1 clove garlic in a blender; process to combine and, with the motor running, drizzle in about 1/3 cup water and blend until smooth, adding more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary. Toss the noodles with the broccoli pesto and sesame sauce to coat evenly; scatter over sesame seeds and peanuts, if using.

Per serving: Calories 287; Fat 15 g (Saturated 2 g); Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 80 mg; Carbohydrate 40 g; Fiber 2 g; Sugars 0.6 g; Protein 8 g

Spicy Pumpkin Seed Pesto Granola
Serves: 6

2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup almond butter

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss together the oats, pumpkin seeds, flax seed meal, salt and jalapeno.

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the maple syrup and almond butter. Add to the oat mixture and toss to coat. Spread out on the baking sheet and bake until toasted and almost dry, about 30 minutes.

Per serving: Calories 305; Fat 13 g (Saturated 1 g); Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 49 mg; Carbohydrate 43 g; Fiber 6 g; Sugars 13 g; Protein 10.1 g

Roasted Cauliflower with Vegan Pesto Butter
Serves: 8

1/4 cup refined coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons raw cacao butter, preferably flavorless, melted
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons dairy-free milk
1/2 teaspoon sunflower lecithin
2 tablespoons homemade or store-bought vegan pesto
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
Salt and pepper

Place the coconut oil, cacao butter, 1 tablespoon of the grapeseed oil, milk and lecithin in a high-speed blender and blend on high for 1 minute. Stir in the pesto and freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet, toss together the cauliflower and remaining 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil. Season with salt and pepper. While still warm, toss with some of the pesto butter to coat.

Per serving: Calories 159; Fat 16 g (Saturated 9 g); Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 38 mg; Carbohydrate 4 g; Fiber 2 g; Sugars 0 g; Protein 2 g

Silvana Nardone is the author of Silvana’s Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kitchen: Timeless Favorites Transformed.

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