Hot Summer day? Pesto. Cool Fall wind? Pesto. Cold Winter snow? Pesto. Rainy Spring day? Pesto. OK. Maybe I am on a pesto kick right now, but anyone else find it to be appealing despite the weather? With the right pesto recipe, you can use the veggies you have on hand and direct the flavor profile in many different directions. Lately our home garden has been producing beautiful celery, but the stalks are rather thin. The leaves though, wow! So full of deep green and fragrance. So naturally, I made celery pesto. Because it is our only celery plant, I couldn’t harvest it completely, so I added fresh kale to the mix. The kale not only pumped up the pesto in volume, but also in nutrients. To get the nutrition facts on kale, visit my post Green Smoothies.
My go-to recipe (see below) includes walnuts. Nuts in general do a great job of adding omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, but walnuts in particular have been shown to improve heart health. For the nitty gritty of the studies looking at walnuts and endothelial function check out Nutritionfacts.org. The takeaway is that three studies on walnuts showed an improvement in endothelial function and arterial function. This means walnuts are protective against heart disease. Michael Greger, MD, FACLM recommends everyone consume an ounce of nuts a day, unless they have a nut allergy (which is only about 1% of the population).
So what else do I use in my pesto? Not oil. It started as my husband not being a fan of oily pesto. This was compounded by the fact that we are trying to keep oil consumption on our diets to a minimum, especially coconut oil and palm oil. I have found that water works just as well in a lot of recipes or scenarios where oil is typically used. Sautéing vegetables? Use water. Needless to say, this pesto does not contain any oil, just water.
Next, I throw garlic in to my food processor. The amount really depends on how much I am in the mood for garlic. Don’t worry, I have listed an amount below, which will give a mid-range garlic flavor to your pesto. Of course, feel free to play around with the amount and add more if desired. Worried about garlic breath, well just remember all of the benefits of garlic. Again, I will refer to Nutritiongfacts.org for their breakdown on the evidence-based medicinal purposes of garlic powder. The takeaways are- 3/4 tsp of garlic powder eaten daily reduced cholesterol by 16 points, slowed the progression of atherosclerosis (number one killer of men and women in the United States) and lowered the systolic and diastolic (blood) pressures enough to reduce the risk of a heart attack by 25%. Next time, wear that garlic breath like a badge of health honor.
Nutritional yeast gives this pesto a richness. It gives it a subtle cheesy flavor without overpowering the pesto, or adding the cholesterol that dairy cheese surely would. Looking for the nutrition run down on nutritional yeast? Guess where I will direct you….Nutritionalfacts.org naturally. There are certain health conditions or diseases in which someone may not want to include nutritional yeast in their diet. For more details, follow my link and scroll to the end where there are videos regarding when to avoid nutritional yeast.
If I have some Vegan8 ricotta made I will mix it into the pesto, making it even creamier!
Raising Vegan Tip- Celery is a plant that regrows very easily. This can be a fun science experiment for the kids too! Buying your celery from the grocery store? No problem. Now that you have used the stalks, slice a thin amount off of the bottom of the stalk base. Place it in a shallow amount of water and place in the sun. The celery will regrow in a matter of weeks! You can also directly replant into the soil of a garden box. In a couple of months you will have a full regrown celery plant.
Celery and Kale Pesto Recipe:
1 packed cup of celery leaves
(2 cups if not using other leafy green)
1 packed cup of kale leaves
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup walnuts
4 tbsp water
2 tsp garlic (minced)
4 tbsp nutritional yeast
Put all ingredients in a food processor and blender until smooth and creamy.