The first thing that comes to our mind when we say the word Pesto is Italian cuisine. Bags and bags of flavours packing a punch on a hearty plate with huge portions.
One such sauce that comes from the heart of Italian cuisine is the pesto sauce. Originating form Genoa, Italy, this beautiful green sauce consists of very simple, very basic ingredients. It is known to be by far, one of the healthiest sauces ever made. With all the herbs and basil, pesto is one sauce that, if used in everyday cooking can render your body healthy.
Also try our super easy and yum French Crepes.
How it’s made
A traditional pesto sauce constitutes crushed garlic, pine nuts or walnuts, basil (which lends it its beautiful colour) Parmesan cheese and of course salt; all of which have time and again proven to be healthy items to be consumed. All these ingredients are taken together in a mortar and a pestle and crushed together to make a fine paste. They are then dissolved in abundant olive oil and made more liquid by adding a little hot water.
Pesto sauce on the whole is known to have a number of health benefits to say the very least. It is an all-rounder of sorts in that it is loaded with proteins, vitamins, minerals and the best part is the fat content of the pesto sauce is good fat. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Basil @the core:
Basil is popularly known as the world’s healthiest ingredient. Such are the effects of consuming basil that it is known to rid you of any or all kinds of day to day health issues. Whether it is bad cold or an upset stomach, basil is an Indian herb that is used to cure man of many of his illnesses. It is also a prominent ingredient in many medically prescribed drugs. Apart from that, basil is loaded with several beneficial vitamins and minerals, and contains very less calories and zero cholesterol.
Proteins to keep you going:
Since time immemorial, we have been told that proteins are very integral to our diet. Even people who are watching their weight are advised not to ditch their proteins. The pine nuts in the pesto sauce are very rich in proteins, which aid in body development and muscle building. Pine nuts also are an excellent source of essential fatty acids.
Pesto for your heart:
Pesto is also considered nutritious; a study says that the regions of the Mediterranean belt use pesto in their everyday life because it is known for its heart enhancing benefits. As we mentioned above, the fat in the pesto is mostly unsaturated which supports the health of your heart. So much so that unsaturated fat is replaced with saturated fat in our day to day lives, we may experience an improvement in our cholesterol levels.
Pesto during pregnancy:
Pesto has also proven to show great health benefits for pregnant women. Expectant mothers are expected to eat a very healthy diet. During the course of the pregnancy they experience a whole range of side-effects ranging from morning sickness to being put off by the smell of meat, to experiencing pain in various parts of their bodies. Stomach upsets are a regular side-effect, and the basil in the pesto helps cure them. Also, since the sauce is low in calories, it helps prevent obesity during pregnancy. Besides, it also helps strengthen your bones and joints which is absolutely essential during pregnancies.
Pesto for the seniors:
A moderate amount of pesto is recommended in all diets, especially for the elderly. When consumed in moderation, pesto, not only improves one’s cholesterol levels, but also aids in decreasing inflammation in the body, which is very important because inflammation is associated with higher risks of heart diseases, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and many other conditions associated with old age.
Pesto is such a versatile sauce; it goes with almost everything.
- Since it’s loaded with flavours, you can just add a tablespoon to your regular meals.
- Add a tbsp. of pesto to non-fat Greek yoghurt to make a delectable dip.
- A generous amount of pesto with some prawns makes a hell of a pizza or you could just add it to chunks of boneless chicken to make a mean panini.
- Stir a spoonful of pesto sauce in your tomato sauce to give it both flavour and richness, or just make a good old penne pesto pasta, and you are sorted.
So the next time you binge on pesto, you can do so without feeling guilty. You know now that it does more good to your body than harm. Go ahead and enjoy your pesto with all your heart. Here’s to bringing back pesto in your day-to-day life. Bon Appetit!
Traditionally, all these ingredients are taken together and ground up in a mortar and pestle.
But we are going to be doing it a bit differently. Here’s how:
Pesto Sauce Recipe
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves.
- 2 cloves garlic.
- 1/4 cup pine nuts/walnuts.
- 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided.
- Salt and black pepper, to taste.
- 1/2 cup freshly grated cheese.
In an electric chopper or mixer grind all ingredients to a grainy/ smooth paste.
The texture depends on individual tastes and what you plan to use the pesto for.
Like me, if you don’t enjoy the taste of basil too much and feel it’s overpowering; try half and half basil:coriander.
If you want to make it slightly runny opt for milk instead of water to get a more flowing consistency.
Recipe courtesy: Delshad Master