Savour This Sexy Summer Sauce
By Shauna Lindzon
The summer months are here, hooray! I love planting a variety of green herbs in my backyard garden every summer. Having an abundance of fresh herbs always motivates me to make pesto. What does pesto actually mean? The word originated in Genoa Italy and is adapted from the Italian verb ‘to crush’ or ‘to pound’. Traditionally pesto is made with fresh garlic, pine nuts, basil leaves, and hard cheese such as parmesan and blended with extra virgin olive oil. This sauce is one of the most adaptable sauces out there. Some easy swaps are as follows:
- Swap out the pricey pine nuts with hemp hearts, walnuts, or pistachios.
- Use a mix of fresh herbs or greens, including flat-leaf parsley, arugula, or spinach.
- Use nutritional yeast as an alternative to the cheese. This option is loaded with vitamin B12 which is a vitamin that people who follow a plant-based diet need for optimal health.
- Mix different oils such as flax seed oil, or walnut oil in with the olive oil. This can give a boost of a variety of fatty acids which is good for your heart and brain.
Off the top of my head, I can think of three dishes that I use pesto regularly in my recipe rotation. I make a stuffed mushroom where I mix fresh garlic with parsley leaves, nutritional yeast, extra virgin olive oil and stuff it into mushrooms. I finish this delicious appetizer off with a sprinkle of pine nuts, and balsamic glaze (full recipe is on my website: shaunalindzon.com). It is almost a deconstructed pesto.
Another favourite is a caprese pasta salad. I make a traditional pesto and then mix it into any short pasta, cut up cherry tomatoes, and sliced bocconcini cheese balls. It is a fabulous summer meal.
If you would like to try an easy dish to serve during a summer barbecue, here is a fantastic seasonal recipe to start with:
TOMATO BURRATA PLATE: Makes: 4 servings
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
2 cups fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the plate:
1 large ball of burrata cheese, brought to room temperature
2-3 cups fresh tomatoes, sliced into large pieces
1 Tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a food processor, add pine nuts, garlic, basil, parmesan, lemon zest and juice, salt, and pepper. Pulse until roughly chopped. Add olive oil slowly through the top opening of the processor and incorporate until mixture is mixed together into a paste.
Place the burrata in the center of a large plate. Scatter tomatoes around the burrata. Dollop pesto and drizzle balsamic and olive oil over the entire plate. Sprinkle with torn basil leaves and extra salt and pepper to taste.
When ready to serve, slice the burrata ball from the center outwards. Serve with crusty bread if desired.
Shauna Lindzon is a dietitian and nutritionist. She is a program developer and nutrition leader at Wellspring Cancer Support Network and enjoys doing virtual nutrition cooking classes and corporate wellness lectures. For more information about Shauna visit shaunalindzon.com and follow her on Instagram @shaunalin.