It’s been so long ago now that I hardly remember it- but the first time I had pesto was when I was a college student in Portland, Oregon and living in walking distance from Trader Joe’s. I tried a lot of new things from Trader Joe’s that year, such as Tasty Bite Indian Meals, Tomato and Basil Pesto, Eggplant in Balsamic Vinegar, Marinated Mushrooms… Probably the item that had the most staying power for me was pesto, in both its tomato or basil incarnation. I loved in in pasta sauce, basted onto a gluten free pizza crust, or simply adorning gluten free pasta with pine nuts and maybe some spinach. It was delicious, but also decadent due to the usual heavy amounts of olive oil, parmesan cheese, and pine nuts. I loved the flavor, even if I couldn’t help but feel guilty over the high fat content of most commercial varieties. But what is pesto, anyway?
Pesto means “to pound, to crush,” and the name came from the fact that it is usually made of ground herbs and garlic. It has been consumed since Roman times. Classic Pesto alla genovese contains basil, salt, garlic, Ligurian extra virgin olive oil and Pecorino Sardo, Parmesan, or Pecorino Romano cheese. Some versions contain pine nuts, walnuts and curd or ricotta cheese. You can find a similar sauce in Provence that is called Pistou, which originally was made of cheese and olive oil but now generally contains olive oil, basil, and garlic. Unlike pesto, pistou does not usually contain nuts, and is often used in soups. Some varieties of pesto include “arugula (instead of or in addition to basil), black olives, lemon rind, coriander or mushrooms.” A creamier Peruvian variety contains spinach and is usually served with potatoes and steak. (reference: Wikipedia: Pesto)
I made French Socca, a French Chickpea Crepe Flat bread, the other night for dinner, and topped it with a caramelized onion, artichoke heart, tomato, and calamata olive mixture. It was delicious, but I ended up with half of a can of artichoke hearts left over. I wasn’t sure what to do with them until I caught sight of the thriving basil plant on my patio. How about an artichoke heart, basil pesto using something other than pine nuts… something like… pecans? And so a recipe was born. I wanted something light and summery, with less calories than the typical pesto, so cutting out the cheese and limiting the oil made sense. I used two tablespoons of sweet, fruity, locally produced olive oil and somehow that was just enough. Even DH, who isn’t ordinarily a huge fan of pesto, enjoyed this light, summery dish. I paired it with some chilled Celestial Seasonings Tea, a variation on Southern Fried Tofu, and leftover chilled Roasted Chili Garlic Broccoli. To me, nothing says summer like the sweet, piquant flavor of basil pesto. It would be perfect paired with a classic fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil leaf salad. If you thought pesto was off limits due to dairy intolerance or calorie concerns, think again! Pesto can be as light and allergen friendly as you like.
For Other Pesto Recipes:
See my earlier recipe for Dairy Free Basil Parsley Pesto with accompanying Dairy Free Cheesy Pizza Topping
See Elise at Simply Recipes for a traditional Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe
Chocolate and Zucchini has Red and Green Pesto Recipes and a unique Savory Strawberry Pesto Recipe
Coconut and Life has a Spinach Pesto Recipe and Healthy Broccoli Pesto Recipe
More GF Pasta Recipes:
And if you’re in the mood for pasta, but not for this recipe, why not try my other vegan, gluten free pasta recipe?
Dairy Free, Soy Free Cheesy Lasagna
I almost forgot to mention that this pesto recipe was entered in the “Waiter there’s something in my… Sauce” web event.
Gluten Free Artichoke Pecan Pesto Pasta Recipe
1/4 cup pecans or other nut to taste
1/2 cup artichoke hearts in water, drained
1 large bunch fresh basil
1-2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp good quality olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Place all pesto ingredients in food processor and blend until creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
Serve mixed into freshly made gluten free pasta (don’t forget to rinse and drain so it doesn’t get gummy). You may have extra pesto, which can be used later in another dish.
Very fresh, easy, and YUMMY!