Arugula Pistachio Pesto

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Mr. Healthy Haus requested I make a pesto.

Sure, let’s give it a whirl! Pesto is simple and versatile. It can be enjoyed as a dip, spread, condiment, pasta sauce and probably a million other things.

Besides basil and pine nuts, a traditional pesto typically contains parmesan cheese. However, since I have temporarily cut dairy from my diet, I wanted to come up with a vegan version that was equally as good as (if not better than) the Italian classic. Usually, when I say vegan, my husband’s eyes glaze over. But not this time! This vegan dish is rich, vibrant, and flavorful and can be made in ten minutes or less.

Ingredients (makes about 2 cups):

  • 1 cup pistachios, shelled
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups fresh basil, packed
  • 2 cups arugula, packed
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3/4 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh ground pepper and sea salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. Heat a heavy bottom skillet over medium heat. Add the pistachios and dry roast them until golden brown. Make sure you shake the skillet frequently to distribute the heat evenly and not burn the pistachios.
  2. Put the pistachios and garlic in a large food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
  3. Add the basil and arugula and continue to process.
  4. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Keep processing while adding as much olive oil until the pesto reaches a smooth and creamy consistency.
  5. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days.

Teachable Tips:

  1. Pistachios vs. pine nuts – pistachios win! They have a lower fat and higher protein content and, in my opinion, more flavor than pine nuts. Plus, they are a lot cheaper. Whole Foods was selling a pound of pine nuts for a whopping $34.00 the other day. Pine nuts! Not gold. That made $13.00 for a pound of pistachios look like a steal.
  2. Arugula adds more nutty flavor and gives this dish a little more depth than you would get if you were just using basil alone. Lemon zest and juice give the pesto some zing and help keep it from oxidizing.
  3. Mr. Healthy Haus thought my pesto game was equally as strong over a bowl of whole grain brown rice pad Thai noodles as well as a slice of fresh grilled bread. Even my kids loved the “green sauce.” Vegan pesto – undefeated!

Enjoy!

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