Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Amped Up Pesto Dip

I love pesto. The fragrant smell of the fresh basil gets me every time. 

I wanted to make a big batch yesterday to have on hand to drizzle over roasted vegetables, combine into a grain salad, and spread on sandwiches. Having homemade dips and dressings in the fridge is something I recommend for all home cooks; it's much easier to put a quick lunch or dinner together when you have an amazing dressing. 

Traditional pesto is delicious but high in fat and contains Parmesan cheese, so I made a few adjustments. Trust me, you don't miss the cheese. I also wanted to add some 'staying power' to the pesto; something to make it more filling, so I added in beans a la Angela from Oh She Glows. This made the pesto a bit thicker, but also a lot more nutritious. This protein-packed pesto will keep you full and is surprisingly creamy. You actually can't even taste the beans. I used garbanzo because that's what I had on hand, but I would recommend cannellini or navy beans as they have a milder flavor. 

Angela's recipe is originally oil free, and you can totally do this by using water or pasta water or vegetable broth instead of oil. I used oil this time, but usually don't. Depends on the occasion. 

Health benefits of basil: Basil is full of magnesium, iron, calcium and vitamins K and C. It is also said to relieve stress when added to tea, reduce symptoms of PMS and even act as a body cleanser (reach for the basil the day after drinking alcohol or overeating!) 

Amped Up Pesto Dip
Inspired by this recipe, from Oh She Glows 
Makes 5 cups 

4 cups packed fresh basil 
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup nuts (I used a mixture of walnuts and pine nuts) 
1.5 cups beans (I used a mixture of garbanzo and Cannellini) 
1/2 cup olive oil (use the best you have) 
1/4 cup nutritional yeast 
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Adjust seasonings to taste. Pesto will keep for at least a week in the fridge but will brown, so make sure to mix it up before serving to guests! You can also thin it out more if you want to use it as a salad dressing or something. 

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