I could probably figure out a way to put pesto in everything. Seriously, I love its flavor. Also, being partially Italian, I just think it’s in my genes to be drawn to flavors of basil, nuts and cheese. I love the challenge of converting my tried and true recipes from my restaurant background into more nutritionally sound ones, so I began exploring other ways to make a pesto. This version turned out great! The star of this recipe is the Brazil nut. Not a very commonly known nut, but one that should definitely be on your radar! It’s an easy swap out for any soft, meaty nut like pine nuts, macadamias or cashews. Brazil nuts are a good source of protein, a healthy saturated fat and is rich in minerals. It is especially rich in Selenium which is very important for the body. It’s main role is as an antioxidant, which helps protect our cells from deterioration by free radicals. Selenium can also stimulate a positive response to vaccines, offer protection against cardiovascular disease and have an anti-carcinogenic effect.
Since not everyone will find themselves randomly snacking on brazil nuts everyday, this pesto recipe is a great way to sneak them into something you may enjoy or consume more frequently! It is also a dairy free recipe yet still imparts that flavor you get from Parmesan cheese with the use of nutritional yeast.
Brazil Nut Pesto
1/2 c soaked brazil nuts [soak in water overnight to soften nuts and release the phytic acid they contain- this makes their nutritional content more easily absorbed by your body]
3 c fresh basil leaves
1.5 cups fresh arugula
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp garlic
1-2 cups avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp lemon juice
salt/pepper to taste
Bring small pot of water up to a boil to blanch your basil/arugula. When water is boiling, drop the leaves in until they turn a little brighter green. Immediately remove and put in a bowl with ice cold water. Let sit until cooled then remove from water and squeeze out remaining water. This will help your pesto retain a nice vibrant green color.
In a food processor, pulse the drained nuts until they are finely chopped. Add the greens, garlic, nutritional yeast and lemon juice. Blend again until mix begins to turn smoother. Slowly pour in oil until consistency begins to change and become much smoother. Let mix for roughly a minute or two.
Season with several pinches of salt and a little bit of pepper. Greens always need salt to bring out their flavor! Don’t be afraid to taste and add a little more salt if needed. Also, If you aren’t tasting enough “cheesy” flavor, add another tablespoon or two of nutritional yeast.