Roasted Garlic Pesto

I love pesto and I adore roasted garlic! I was in the store the other day looking at the basil which was not quite fresh enough and seemed awfully expensive. Then I remembered that I have italian parsley at home and plenty of fresh garlic, and another ingredient that is not usually used that I thought would make an excellent Mediterranean-style pesto!

It is so very simple:

Roasted Garlic Pesto

  • about 2 tablespoons roasted garlic. Instructions for roasting garlic are here.
  • 1 bunch of italian parsley, finely chopped. About 2 cups.
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons black olive paste
  • 2 teaspoons sweet white miso (this is not “sweetened” it is less salty)
  • olive oil (as needed & wanted)
  • finely sliced preserved lemon rinds, or lemon zest if you don’t have preserved lemons. Instructions for preserving lemons here.

1. Roasting the garlic takes the longest and you can do that ahead and even store some roasted garlic for a couple weeks. Take the roasted cloves off the bulb and squeeze out the garlic which should now be like paste.

2. I like to lightly roast my pine nuts by washing them quickly in cold water and tossing them around in a heated cast iron skillet until they begin to brown. It takes 3-5 minutes.

3. I enjoy a more traditionally made pesto instead of one that is machine blended into a paste. I like to see and taste the pine nuts and the parsley so I use my suribachi to make the paste. A suribachi is a ceramic bowl that is all grooved inside and you’d be surprised how well that works! Here’s what a suribachi looks like:

Groovy!

Groovy!

4. If you don’t have one of these (or don’t want one) you can hand-chop the nuts very fine and minced your parsley with a good sharp knife. Get the nuts and parsley all chopped up and mixed together. Add the black olive paste and miso and combine it altogether. Use a little extra olive oil if you wish—I just add a drizzle of water if I want to loosen it up. Garnish with the preserved lemon rind or zest at the end..

A note about the black olive paste . . .

I like using black olive paste because even though olive oil is a wonderful thing, it is very refined. Think how many olives it takes to make that oil! Think what is refined out of it including the fiber! Olive paste is less refined and closer to being a whole food as it is mainly crushed olives. I used store-bought “black olive tapenade,” but there’s no reason you can finely chop pitted olives. Think of the variations using different olives!

5. Use the pesto for whatever you want! I used it in a quinoa salad today. You could use it as a topping in soup, as a spread on bruschetta, as a seasoning for potatoes or cauliflower, or add a little lemon juice or vinegar and make a salad dressing. And of course, pesto is great for pasta!

PESTO PASTA

Quick Cooking Tip – Parsley!

Here’s a little tip for getting the most out of your cooking time, especially in the summer when most of us would really like to create fast, bright, nutrition-packed dishes without using a lot of heat.

The tip is:  P A R S L E Y

Parsley

Parsley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is the stuff that nearly every restaurant uses for a garnish on your plate.  You know, the little green sprig of greens on a tiny stem that add color to the otherwise medium-dull plate of food.

I had never thought of parsley as a vegetable, as in—something you actually eat—until I met my friend Carolyn years ago and went to her house for lunch.  She served parsley sandwiches!  She used some homemade whole-grain bread with a bit of mayo, sliced tomatoes from her garden, a few slices of red onion and a huge bunch of parsley.

This turned out to be a delightful sandwich!  I have indulged in parsley sandwiches ever since.  I happen to prefer the “Italian” parsley which is the flat-leafed variety.  And yes, if you do eat the little sprig served as a garnish, chlorophyll-rich parsley will help you cleanse your breath.  Parsley is often eaten raw but it can also be added to cooked dishes.

English: Petroselinum crispum, Parsley, leaf. ...

English: Petroselinum crispum, Parsley, leaf. Deutsch: Petroselinum crispum, Apiaceae, Petersilie, Blatt. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Parsley can be washed, cut and dropped into a dish you are cooking and will rapidly turn bright green.  When it is bright, it is done.  This delicate culinary herb takes almost no cooking at all yet it has powerful nutritional properties.  Usually I add parsley to a dish I’m cooking and turn off the stove. Gorgeous!

Parsley is a nutritional powerhouse!  For one thing it is a good source of Vitamin K. You can learn more about the vitamins and minerals in parsley here:  http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/parsley.html

If you want to, you can wash an entire bunch of parsley by filling your sink or a bowl full of cold water and immersing the entire bunch still tied together.  Shake it around and get all the sand and dirt out, then drain the bunch and untie it.  That way you will not be chasing around small sprigs of the stuff in your wash bowl.