January has been the month of pesto for us here at ProWare. Inspired by the Pasta Please ‘Healthy Themed’ blogging event hosted by Ren Behan this month (originally started by Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes), we’ve experimented with so many different varieties of pesto I’m surprised we aren’t sick of it by now! Never the less, I’ve come to the conclusion that with pesto – homemade is the only way.
It’s so simple, quick to make, fresh and you can substitute so many of the ingredients to suit what you have in your cupboards. Below are the various versions I have made this month finally settling on the Spinach and Basil Pesto.
Curly kale, hempseed, garlic, lemon and flax oil pesto (with and without adding a cup of basil) – This yielded nice results. Use the same amount of hempseeds as you would Pine nuts and 3-4 cups Kale. The hempseeds can be hard to find in UK supermarkets, but are very good for you and packed with protein. So if you’re interested in trying this, finding them online or at a health store is probably your best bet. Flax oil brings a lovely nutty flavour to pestos, but make sure not to heat any left over pesto made with flax oil because it should not be heated, however it will be ok if added to warm pasta.
Cavolo nero kale, hempseed, garlic, lemon and flax oil pesto (with and without adding a cup of basil) – I found this type of kale quite bitter, which was refreshing, but not my favourite of all the different types I tried. Make sure to remove the centre rib of this kale before adding it to the food processor.
Curly kale, Pine nuts, garlic, lemon and olive oil pesto – I found the pine nuts yielded a smoother pesto than the ones made with hempseeds as they seemed to break down more in the food processor.
Spinach, walnut, garlic, lemon and olive oil pesto – Tasty, not much different to the full recipe below.
Baked spaghetti squash with homemade pesto – This was absolutely delicious and a fabulous alternative to traditional spaghetti if you are going gluten free. A friend of mine brought a spaghetti squash over, we baked this in the oven (how to bake spaghetti squash) and mixed in some pesto. Since then I’ve looked everywhere in order to recreate it but can’t find them anymore, hence why this version didn’t make the final cut. Do keep your eye out for this squash next autumn though because they are a very tasty, low-carb alternative to spaghetti.
In the below recipe, I’ve used whole wheat organic pasta, wild salmon and limited the amount of Parmesan to a light sprinkling before serving in order to make this healthier. I’ve also added spinach to the pesto which ups the usual vegetable content of pesto.
I’m linking this recipe to:
Baked Salmon with Spinach and Basil Pesto Pasta
Serves: 4 (Makes approx 1 cup of Pesto)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes
- 2 cups spinach
- 2 cups basil
- 1 large garlic clove (or 2 small)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup Pine nuts
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons of water
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
- 400g whole wheat pasta
- 4 salmon fillets (preferably wild)
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
- Food processor
- Baking Tray
- Copper Base 20cm Saucepan
- Paper towel
Cooking Method – Pesto
1. Peel the garlic and blitz it in the food processor until finely chopped.
2. Add the spinach, basil, lemon juice, pine nuts, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese and chilli flakes (if using). Blitz again a few times, then gradually start to add the olive oil. After it is slightly mixed, open the food processor and use the spatula to scrape down the edges of the bowl.
3. Continue to blitz the mixture until it is smooth. If you would like a more creamy pesto add 1-2 tablespoons of water and blitz until the desired smoothness is achieved.
Cooking Method – Salmon and Pasta
1. Preheat oven to 200°C and bring a medium to large saucepan with water on to boil.
2. Put the salmon fillets on a foil lined baking dish or on a tray, skin side down. Pat the salmon dry with a paper towel. Season lightly with salt and pepper then spread a heaped tablespoon of pesto onto the top of each fillet. Reserve the remaining pesto on one side for the pasta.
3. Transfer the salmon to the oven and bake for approximately 10-15 minutes. Salmon can cook quite quickly depending on its thickness, so keep an eye on it as it is done when it is easily flaked. At the same time, start your pasta in the boiling water and cook according to instructions on packaging.
4. Strain the pasta when it has reached desirable tenderness and mix in the remaining pesto. Serve the pasta in pasta bowls or plates.
5. Remove the salmon from the oven when ready and place on top of the pasta to serve. Sprinkle lightly with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!