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10 ways with pesto

Niki Bezzant suggests easy ways to make good use of this Italian sauce.

(makes 1/2 cup)

2 cloves garlic
1 1/4 cups fresh basil, loosely packed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large lemon, juice and zest
1/4 cup cashew nuts
75g freshly-grated Parmesan cheese

Step 1 Blend garlic, basil, oil, lemon juice and zest, and cashew nuts with a stick blender or in a food processor. Blend until smooth.

Step 2 Add Parmesan to the mixture. Blend well and season to taste with salt and black pepper.

1.  Dishy dressing

In a screw-top jar combine two tablespoons pesto and one tablespoon each of white wine vinegar and olive oil. Shake well, then toss through a salad.

2.  Spread the word

Replace spread with pesto next time you make a chicken or salad sandwich. Try it on wraps, focaccia or toasted sandwiches.

3.  Pesto mayo

Add pesto to your favourite reduced-fat mayonnaise along with a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve as a sauce with salmon or white fish fillets.

4.  Cute crostini

Cut a French stick in thin slices. Spread each slice with one teaspoon pesto, a little freshly-grated Parmesan or some bocconcini. Bake at 180ºC for 10 minutes or until cheese is golden and bread is crispy.

5.  Pesto potatoes

For a simple potato salad, boil or steam baby potatoes then allow to cool. Combine two tablespoons each of pesto and low-fat plain yoghurt. Add to potatoes with shredded spring onions and semi-dried tomatoes. Toss well.

6.  Ritzy risotto

Next time you make risotto, serve each portion with a dollop of pesto. This is particularly delicious with tomato-based risottos but works well with most.

7.  Quick tart

Spread a piece of reduced-fat puff pastry with pesto. Top with cherry tomatoes and feta or bocconcini pieces. Bake in a hot oven until pastry is puffed and golden and cheese is slightly melted. Slice and serve.

8.  Stuffed mushrooms

Combine two tablespoons pesto with one cup low-fat cottage cheese and a little freshly-grated Parmesan. Remove mushroom stems. Arrange, gill-side up, on a baking tray. Add a dollop of cheese mixture then bake for 20 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.

9.  Baked fish

Place white fish fillets on large squares of baking paper. Spread each with pesto then fold up paper to make a parcel. Bake in a hot oven for 10 minutes or until fish flakes when tested with a fork. This also works well with chicken breast fillets (the cooking time will be longer).

10.  Eggs with more

Stir in two teaspoons pesto next time you beat eggs for an omelette or scrambled eggs. Or cook eggs as normal and top with a dollop of pesto when eggs are ready as a tasty replacement for fresh herbs.

First published: Nov 2010



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