Meatless Monday: Parsley Pesto
Most of us are familiar with basil pesto. It’s the most traditional form of pesto. But over the years, many other base ingredients have proven to make tasty, refreshing pesto pastes as well. Kale’s recent popularity has made it a worthy pesto base, by itself and in combination with fresh basil. Arugula also makes a delicious, savory pesto.
Currently, parsley of both the curly and Italian varieties is going crazy in my backyard garden. I can see that I’m soon going to have a hard time keeping up with it, so I’m working on creative ways to use large quantities of it while it’s in its prime, although parsley tends to keep on giving well into the fall.
In addition to using it to top frittatas and pasta dishes, or in green smoothies, I’m experimenting with parsley pesto. Pesto requires large amounts of its base ingredient. This allows me to utilize my bumper crop and make a healthy, chlorophyll-rich topping for a variety of dishes.
Parsley has long been touted as a health-giving herb. According to Medical News Today, one of parsley’s chemical components has been linked to tumor reduction in an aggressive form of breast cancer. In addition, parsley consumption has been known to lower blood sugar and decrease insulin resistance in people with diabetes. Parsley contains high levels of Vitamin K which assists with blood clotting and increases bone health. Just 10 sprigs of parsley contains 205% of the RDA for Vitamin K. For this reason, people who take Coumadin or other blood-thinning drugs should take care in introducing too many Vitamin K-rich foods into their diets too suddenly.
One more note on the making of any pesto: The first time I tried to make pesto I didn’t own a food processor. Instead I used a regular blender. It was very labor intensive—lots of scraping down the sides, blending for a second before scraping again, repeated dozens of times. It scared me away from making pesto again for a very long time. A food processor or professional blender such as VitaMix makes short work of pesto. If you love pesto, it’s well worth the price to invest in one of these.
There are lots of parsley pesto recipes available on the internet. This is a simple one that I’ve enjoyed from Food Network. You can use it in pastas, egg dishes, sandwiches and salad dressings.
2 cloves garlic
2 cups parsley (Italian, curly or a combination)
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup parmesan (optional, you can substitute 1/4 cup or more of nutritional yeast if you are vegan)
2/3 cup olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper
Place garlic, parsley, pinch of salt, walnuts and parmesan in a food processor. Process until it becomes a loose paste. Gradually add olive oil. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.