Pesto Recipes To Suit Your Personal Tastes

Sunrise Senior Living  |  April 10, 2015
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Pesto is a quick and easy sauce that adds bold flavors to a meal. It also makes a good addition to your senior nutrition plan, as it contains healthy fats from the nuts. However, you may get tired of eating the same basil pesto over and over again, so why not switch up the recipe a little? There are many variations of this classic sauce that are great on pasta, sandwiches, chicken and more.

Classic homemade pesto
Traditional pesto uses basil and pine nuts to create a delicious paste. It's great on top of your favorite pasta dish or as a spread on lunchtime sandwiches. Here's the simple recipe for classic pesto.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves, packed tightly
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

Directions
To make this great sauce, simply place the basil, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil into a food processor. Pulse the ingredients until they are coarsely chopped, then turn the machine on high and process until you have a smooth pesto. Transfer the sauce into a bowl, and stir in the cheese and salt. You can store any extra pesto in the fridge for up to a week in an airtight container.

Kale and walnut pesto
One popular variation on pesto uses kale and walnuts for a unique flavor. This is a great way to add more nutrients to your pesto, as kale contains lots of vitamins A and C.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups chopped kale
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then cook the kale for four minutes or until tender. Drain the vegetable in a colander, then rinse with cold water. Pat the kale dry with paper towels. Combine kale, toasted walnuts, garlic, cheese and olive oil in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. When the ingredients are well combined, transfer the pesto into a bowl and serve over pasta or chicken. Store any extra in an airtight container.

Spinach pesto
If you want to incorporate a different green leafy vegetable into your pesto, you can use spinach. It's another incredibly nutritious vegetable that makes a great addition to your senior nutrition plan. This recipe for spinach pesto is especially delicious when served over grilled chicken.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves, packed lightly
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon peel
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Combine spinach, pine nuts, lemon juice, garlic and lemon peel in a food processor and pulse lightly. When the ingredients are course, slowly pour the olive oil into the machine. Blend the sauce until it is creamy. Transfer your pesto to a bowl, then stir in cheese, salt and pepper.

If you have leftover pesto, Food Network recommended storing excess sauce in ice cube trays in the freezer. This trick allows you to pop out one cube of frozen pesto to cook with and lets you keep extra sauce for longer.

Pumpkin pesto
As you may have guessed, you can make pesto variations with just about any vegetable. This unique sauce uses pumpkin puree for a savory taste and is perfect for late summer and fall gatherings at your retirement community.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup basil
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup salted pistachios
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
To make this easy version, simply combine all the ingredients except for olive oil, salt and pepper in your food processor. Pulse until the mixture is well combined, then slowly pour in the olive oil and continue to blend. When the mixture is smooth, stir in the salt and pepper. Enjoy this unique sauce over a fish dinner or with crackers.