I love basil. It has an absolutely gorgeous aroma due to being very high in volatile oils. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, is incredibly high in vitamin K1, and quite decent in vitamins A, C, and manganese. It is possibly my favourite herb to eat fresh, which means I am making a lot of pesto lately! Pesto is also a great way to use up pretty much any greens that might languish in your fridge otherwise. I definitely have trouble eating enough veggies in general (not to mention hydrating enough…), so I am quite happy to be able to add pesto to pretty much any AIP dinner to up my nutrient quota. This single small jar of pesto was made from two large bunches of basil and most of a rather generous bunch of kale (I had to pulse it a few times just to fit it all into my food processor!), so you can see how just a couple spoonfuls of pesto is like adding a whole serving or two of veg. And, because it’s been broken down a bit already, pesto is easier to digest than a raw salad – bonus!
As some of you know, I also seriously love avocado (many avo dessert recipes have been tested the last few weeks). Brimming with healthy fats, avocado is the perfect ingredient to add to an AIP or vegan pesto if you’re looking for a creamier texture with some of the green and garlic edges mellowed out. I was also inspired to try some fresh lemon in this batch to add another layer of flavour. Lemon also helps digestion of greens (especially the hard cell-walls in kale), is a beautiful source of vitamin C and antioxidants, and helps preserve colour and freshness. This recipe tastes reminiscent of guacamole and pesto – so fresh and YUM!
Try to use organic ingredients when you can. Our bodies have enough unnecessary additions from the world these days and we want the antioxidants and nutrients in our food to have a fighting chance at dealing with as many “extras” as possible.
*Storage tip: top your fresh pesto with a decent layer of good olive oil before refrigerating or freezing it. This seals it off from oxygen and pathogens, keeping it fresh, safe, and brightly coloured much longer.Don’t forget to label it! I have many a jar in my freezer that I have forgotten the ingredients therein!
[I have had mixed results with freezing/thawing avocado, so I am trying it again with this recipe and I will update as to whether it turns to watery mush when thawed. Stay tuned!]
Kale-Basil Pesto with Avocado and Lemon
2 large bunches fresh basil
1 bunch kale, de-stemmed
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled (use only 1 if subtlety is your goal)
4-6 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for top of jar
1/2 lemon, juiced
pinch pink salt
pinch turmeric, optional
Place greens and garlic in food processor, add a couple tablespoons oil, and pulse to break down slightly. Add remaining ingredients and more of the oil if desired (I tend to eyeball the oil, so what is written is an approximate amount. You may want more or less depending on if you want a really luscious spread, a runny dressing, or a drier paste). Blend until mixed well, making sure to taste. Use right away, or if storing, top off the jar with additional oil to preserve freshness (see note above*). May be frozen.
Use on burgers, as salad dressing, on roasted sweet potatoes, in salmon wraps, as a mayo substitute in tuna salad, on hors d’oeuvres, a marinade or rub for meat, etc.