Guess what I made today. I love pesto and thanks to all the rain we’ve had lately, my basil plants are growing like gang-busters. I had enough basil leaves for two cups of delicious pesto!
Pesto is a great low-carb topper for chicken breasts and fish. I’ve even used it in place of salad dressing too. For lunch I’m using on fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. Yum!
Unlike most pesto recipes, I use walnuts instead of pine nuts. Pine nuts are way too expensive and frankly, I prefer the walnut flavor. The wonderful thing about pesto is you can experiment with the types of nuts (and sometimes seeds). For this batch, I used both walnuts and macadamias. When it’s time for the 2nd basil picking, I plan to use pistachios (that should make the green color pop!).
Now the old me would have used the pesto as a spread on sourdough bread and killed both the pesto and bread in one sitting. Well those days are gone and that meant I needed to freeze the pesto since it will be around a lot longer. So I ended up creating frozen individual servings using ice-cube trays.
My recipe has just 2g of net carbs for about 2 tablespoons of tasty goodness. Awesome!
Fresh Basil Pesto
Serving Size: 2 Tablespoons
Net Carbs: 2g
Weight Watchers PlusPoints: 4
- 4 C packed fresh basil leaves
- 2/3 C walnuts
- 5 large garlic cloves
- 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 oz parmesan cheese, grated
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp butter
- Pack the basil into your food processor and pulse until the leaves are cut into tiny pieces.
- Add garlic, salt, pepper and half of the oil. Pulse until well minced — the pesto should have a fine consistency.
- Add nuts, cheese and butter; Start processing to mix and slowly add in remaining oil. Process until it is finely grained and well mixed.
- If you want, substitute 1/3 of the walnuts with different nuts or seeds like pecans, pistachios, roasted almonds, macadamias or pumpkin seeds.
- If you find the mixture too thick, slowly add in more olive oil. The amount depends on if you desire a pesto spread or sauce.
Preserving & Thawing Pesto
Pesto can be kept in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Just place plastic wrap on top of the pesto (making contact). If freezing the pesto, spoon portions into an ice-cube tray. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on top to create an “air tight seal” over the pesto. I still use plastic wrap over the tray, again making contact with the pesto. Once the cubes are frozen, remove from the tray and place into a freezer bag. I strongly recommend writing the date you made the pesto on the freezer bag. Pesto can last a few months in the freezer and still keep the fresh taste. But you don’t want it past its expiration date. Yuck!
To defrost pesto, just take the cubes you need and leave in a bowl at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes. Use a fork to mix the pesto and you can add in 1/2 tsp of grated Parmesan cheese per 2 tbsp of pesto. You can also thaw the cubes over night in a refrigerator. If you can’t wait, you can nuke it in the microwave on medium heat, mixing the pesto every 30 seconds. Just don’t overheat or you lose the fresh flavor.