Even sitting here typing the words make my stomach yearn for some.
I fell in love with pesto about nine years ago. A dear friend invited us over for dinner and set before me a plate of pasta with a green sauce gently coating the noodles.
I admit, I wasn’t so sure about green stuff on my pasta, but my roots are from the south, so being the good southern gal I was raised to be, I picked up my fork without showing any signs of fear or hesitation.
As soon as I opened my mouth I was hooked. Seriously ya’ll, it was love at first bite. I honestly have never had that flavor profile before in my life. Where have you been all my life?
Since that night pesto has been my go-to meal (it is a weekly stand-in). It is also one of my favorite dishes to serve guest because it is so quick it whip up and it is simply beautiful.
Now traditional pesto is made with real Parmesan cheese. You can imagine how I felt when we decided to be vegans. There are a few dishes that I missed, pesto was my number one.
So that is when my hunt began. If I was going to remain a vegan I would have to find a pesto version that is as delicious as the original. After many, many attempts (both from my kitchen and off the shelves of grocery stores) I can say that I have finally found the perfect pesto for me.
Simply wholesome. Simply vegan. Simply delicious.
Today when I walked into the kitchen searching for something quick and yummy to cook for lunch, the basil caught my eye, and instantly I knew.
Princess Bella joined me in the kitchen. She loves cooking and I love sharing my passion for food with her. Pesto is one of her favorite dishes so she was super excited to help me cook.
Pesto is usually made with pine nuts, but I have pecan lovers in my house, so I thought I would experiment with pecans instead of pine nuts. Rich in monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and phenolic antioxidants, pecan nuts in the diet helps to decrease total as well as LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increase HDL or “good cholesterol” levels in the blood. The nuts are very rich sources of several important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates. Together, these vitamins work as co-factors for the enzyme metabolism inside the human body. Finally, pecans are also a rich source of minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.
So along with pecans I added green asparagus, one of my super green foods. Now in my household only three of us like asparagus so I have to find unique ways to add it to the little ones’ diets. Pesto is a perfect cover. Asparagus is not only a pretty veggie to look at ( I love the tall, sturdy stems) but it really is a super food! For starters, it is packed with fiber, folate, vitamins (A, C, E, & K) and chromium (a trace mineral that improves the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells (this is great for people struggling with diabetes). Asparagus is also a rich source of glutathione, a detoxing compound that helps break down free radicals. Asparagine, a natural diuretic that increases urination, is also found in this super food. This is especially great news for people who suffer from edema, high blood pressure, and other heart related diseases. But that is not all, asparagus is also loaded with antioxidants, helping the body to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. Basically, it helps you hold on to your youth longer!
Mushrooms are one of my favorite vegetables. They are so hearty and versatile I simply love them–in salads, on sandwiches, cold, grilled, sauteed, it doesn’t matter. Khari is not a mushroom fan. Actually, it was one of the things I questioned when we were dating, “Hmmm could I see myself married to a non-loving mushroom man?” Well, he won! He stayed firm that he was not a fan of the fungus. But I slip it in his food all the time. When I grind them up he can never tell, and neither can the girls. This food is low in sodium, and very low in saturated fat and cholesterol. It is also a good source of protein, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, zinc and manganese, and a very good source of dietary fiber, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, potassium, copper and selenium.
Pesto isn’t pesto unless you have basil. I love basil because (Princess Petals loves it too) of the way it smells and taste. I had no idea that this beautiful plant was also so good for the body. Basil is a great source of vitamin A and helps prevent free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol in the blood stream. Cholesterol only builds up in blood vessel walls after it has been oxidized, whose end result can be a heart attack or stroke. Free radical damage is a contributing factor in many other conditions as well, including asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. The beta-carotene found in basil may help to lessen the progression of these conditions while protecting cells from further damage. Basil is also a good source of magnesium, which promotes cardiovascular health by prompting muscles and blood vessels to relax, thus improving blood flow and lessening the risk of irregular heart rhythms or a spasming of the heart muscle or a blood vessel. If that isn’t enough, basil is also an excellent source of vitamin K and manganese, a very good source of copper and vitamin C, and a good source of calcium, iron, folate and omega-3 fatty acids.
Who knew eating this pesto would so good for you?
You can use the pesto tossed with pasta, or as a spread on a sandwich, as a dip, or even on pizza. The possibilities are endless!
In this recipe I tossed it with pasta. The pesto is rich and creamy–you will never miss the cheese!
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do! If you do have left-overs of this dish (or the pesto by itself) it keeps beautifully in the freezer.
What You’ll Need:
1 clove of garlic
1/4 cup yellow onion
1 cup pecans
1 cup mushrooms (any kind you like will do just fine)
1 cup asparagus, chopped
Basil, big bunch (like 3 cups)
Juice and zest from a whole lemon
1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil (more if you need it)
Salt to taste
What You Do:
- Cook pasta as directed. Once you put the water on to boil start the process of making the pesto.
- Wash all mushrooms, asparagus, and basil and set aside.
- Using a food processor, add the garlic and onion and chop until fine.
- Add the pecans and chop until a fine meal.
- Add mushrooms and asparagus and chop until pieces are fine.
- Add basil and lemon juice. Chop. At this point you may have to push ingredients down a bit.
- With the food processor still going slowly add your olive oil.
- Pour into a bowl and stir. Add salt to taste.
- Drain pasta and toss pesto with the pasta.
Yield: 8 (3/4 cup) servings
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 10 mins.
Cook time: 00 hrs. 15 mins.
Total time: 25 mins.