Jul 29, 2012

Skinny Basil Pesto



Every summer this time of year the basil plants in my garden are lush and beautiful, full of fragrant leaves I love to pick and add to whatever I'm cooking – a simple garden sauce, an heirloom tomato salad, grilled chicken bruschetta, a lovely summer fish dish, just to name a few dishes. 

Pesto is one of the things I whip up all summer long, but pesto can have a lot of oil and fat when made traditionally which can make a dish heavier than I would want, so to make it skinny I use a bit less oil and leave the pine nuts out and no one ever complains. 

Making pesto at the end of the summer and keeping it in the freezer is also a great way to use up the last of the basil from your garden so that you can enjoy it year round. 




Skinny Basil Pesto
Skinnytaste.com
Servings:Serving Size: 1 tbsp • Old Points: 2 pts • Points+: 2 pts
Calories: 86 • Fat: 8.3 g • Protein: 2.3 g • Carb: 0.8 g • Fiber: 0.3 g • Sugar: 0 g
Sodium: 94 mg (without salt)

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup basil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil

Directions:

In a food processor pulse basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil while pulsing. Store in a sealed container and refrigerate until ready to use or you can freeze this in ziplocks bags to use at a later date.


Makes 5 tablespoons.

90 comments :

  1. Don't you just love basil pesto and how versatile it is. This is a great recipe. I make mine the same way

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  2. What's the fat trade off between pine nuts and the parmigiano reggiano? Could you cut half of the cheese and add some pine nuts instead?

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    1. Not sure but pine nuts are SO expensive these days that I won't be changing the ratio here. Looks great, BTW!

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  3. What's the best way to measure out herbs? I've never been able to get that right amount successfully.

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  4. Gina,
    I couldn't help notice the Cookies for Cody ad on your page. After checking it out I'd like to encourage everyone to check it out. It's a very worthwhile fundraiser for a very important cause. There are many offerings for those with special dietary needs.

    Thanks for all of your hard work.

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  5. There is a mystery ingredient, that looks suspiciously like butter, in the picture. Can you tell us?

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    Replies
    1. I think it is the clove!

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    2. It looks like a half clove of fresh garlic to me.

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    3. it also might be the top of the food processor blade (mine looks like that).

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  6. Love it! I have made basil like that. I don't think there is a need to have all of that oil in it!

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  7. This is really an easy recipe. I can try this now at home. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. We've been making pesto like crazy this summer and we always make it with walnuts instead of pine nuts. They have less calories and a lot more health benefits than pine nuts and you can't tell the difference in taste! I am curious on the answer to T-Dogg's question too though. I may make some using this recipe and label it "Mom's Pesto" in the freezer. :) Tip: When freezing your pesto, line an ice cube try or mini muffin tin with a generous piece of plastic wrap. Then spoon your pesto into it and freeze. When it's frozen, getting the portions out to put in freezer bags is SO much easier.

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    1. Great idea!

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    2. Silicone ice cube trays are perfect for making baby food and pesto cubes because they are super easy to pop out! Also- almost any nut can substitute for pine nuts... I used pistachios!

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  9. I have so much basil in the garden and was planning on making a bunch of pesto sauce. This is perfect timing. I like your skinny take and avoiding the pine nuts. I never thought you could get away without them in the recipe. Thanks for sharing!

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  10. Yummy..I put some raw sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts, simply because I usually have them and it is something I used to do as a broke college student from the recipe for pesto in Diet for a Small Planet. It is really delicious, probably 2 Tbs per batch would be good.

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    1. Great idea! I've tried walnuts, which are delicious but still a bit expensive. I will try sunflower seeds. I always have them in the house, too. They are great on salads.

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  11. The photo has a garlic clove, it just didnt photograph well. Personally I feel the flavor of the Parmesan cheese makes the pesto so I wouldn't reduce the amount, but if you have an allergy to cheese, then sure you can replace the cheese with walnuts, pine nuts, etc. Parmesan cheese is pretty low in fat so if you want to use half and add nuts you'll have to re-calculate to see what the results are.

    To measure the basil I just pack a measuring cup with it.

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  12. I love how you lightened this! Definitely need to give this a try!

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  13. I recently discovered your blog and every receipe I've made is FANTASTIC! Thank you!

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  14. That looks so good! I'm glad you shared a light version. Can't wait to try it!

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  15. I've seen a recipe with some chicken broth in and less oil...

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    1. I've tried it, but I prefer to use the olive oil, just using less. Not the same with chicken broth.

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    2. Carol Dorazio7/30/12, 10:44 PM

      Gina what I love about your recipes is the good ingredients. I'm glad you use parmesan and olive oil. I don't know why people feel the need to comment on the use of olive oil and cheese. If you put nuts and chicken broth it would taste gross. The magic to your recipes is the goodness of the ingredients, the faithfulness of the recipe to it's origin and your mindfulness in making ingredient selections. I can't imagine a pesto with chicken broth and crushed nuts without cheese passing the test of taste. Taste should be enjoyable not tolerable for the sake of cutting a few calories. Your recipes are not only very flavorful they are healthy, and traditional and that's why everyone likes them. Good job! I have yet to find a cook that I enjoy as much as you!

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    3. If you're referring to my question, it was because pine nuts (or other nuts) are a traditional ingredient in pesto, along with parmigiano, which is why I asked about putting in half parmigiano and half pine nuts, instead of removing an entire key ingredient from the recipe. Clearly, pesto can work without nuts, which is why Gina removed them.

      Chances are, if you've had traditional basil pesto anywhere, it's had nuts in it. Not sure how gross you found the original recipe...

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  16. We really love pesto made fresh from the garden, but we add pinoli's or black walnuts. We also freeze it in ice cube trays then put them in zip lock bags for use later & to give to friends. :~)

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  17. I use raw almonds in my pesto - works great and they are the cheapest and most healthy nuts available!

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  18. Does anyone know how long the pesto is good for in the freezer? I've heard it wasn't but a couple of months, is this true? TIA

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  19. I have had year old frozen pesto that was still good.. but my freezer is very cold(the alarm goes off if it gets above 10) I freeze some in ice cube trays and 1C. in zippered freezer bags. Have been making a lower fat pesto for years by substituting tomatoes for oil and use what ever nut suits my fancy... 1C. firmly packed washed and dried basil,spinach or parsley(i usually mix), 1C chopped tomatoes, 2T. toasted nuts, 2cloves garlic(toast with nuts so it does not get hotter while frozen), 1/4c. grated parmesan process this and drizzle in 1T. olive oil to emulsify at the end. Yummy!

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  20. You can also add some ricotta to make up for the loss of volume due to lessening the oil.

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  21. This looks good but a little dry. I used a little bit more olive oil and also used sweet basil and lemon basil. It makes for a beautiful taste the lemon & sweet basil.

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  22. I've made pistachio pesto before and never looked back. Almost half the fat content of pine nuts and in my opinion, tastes so much better!

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  23. I mixed this up into some tuna with light mayo and some lemon pepper and it made a pretty yummy tuna salad! Thanks!

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  24. I love that this doesn't use nuts!! Thanks for sharing for those of us with a nut allergy :)

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  25. This looks fantastic! I've made pesto without the oil before but never tried skipping the nuts. Can't wait to give this a try!

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  26. I loooove pesto, but I can never bring myself to spend the points on it! This is great! I can just use 1/2 a TBS at a time if I wanna!

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  27. Hi, I have basil in my garden, but it smells like licorice. It didn;t smell this way when I planted it, but now it smells differently. The last time I tried to make pesto, it tasted awful (I think because the basil was bad). Any idea about this? Where might I get fresh basil for this (if I cannot use the one from my garden)?

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  28. Well Ms. Gina, I didn't waste a minute and made this recipe tonight! Had a hard time rounding up enough basil since I don't have a garden in my apartment, but I got enough for this!

    Amazing and delicious as always! I mixed 1/2 a TBS with spaghetti squash, chicken, and sundried tomatoes for dinner tonight. Yum yum!

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  29. I use walnuts in my pesto because of a serious case of 'pine mouth' two summers ago from stale pine nuts purchased at the grocery store. Google it. It's weird! :) I actually like walnuts better now. This looks like a GREAT skinny-ized version of traditional pesto!

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  30. I add apples sometimes to my pesto. Usually yellow apples since they have such a mild taste, but if you dice them super fine, they have a nice little crunch and you don't miss the pine nuts as much.

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  31. To freeze I place a large sheet of plastic wrap over a plastic ice cube tray, twice length of tray. Start at one end and push the plastic wrap into every other cube, leaving some bunched between. Put the pesto into the cubes. Wrap edges of the wrap over the top and freeze. Take out and cut between each cube. Keep them on the wrap and put the batch into a freezer baggie. You can then take out the cubes as you need them. Color stays bright since they don't get exposed to air this way.

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  32. I have used chicken broth in the past and it takes the flavor out of the pesto. DH hated it. You don't have to use too much pesto to add flavor. It is not worth wasting the fresh Basil to try it. Take Gina's advise. Thanks Gina! This is a great one!

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  33. Yum!! I love pesto's!

    I often make Basil-Chard-Pesto in the summer as we get lots of swiss chard in our farm share and it's a great way to use it up! I blanch the chard, shock in an ice bath, squeeze it out and add to the food processor with the basil, cheese, oil, garlic and whatever nuts we have on hand. Makes a great dip on it's own, or mixed with low-fat yogurt too.

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  34. I learned from Kalyn's Kitchen to add a squeeze of lemon to basil pesto. It brightens the flavor and keeps it a bright green.

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  35. This recipe for pesto is fantastic! I LOVE it!

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  36. I like to add baby spinach in with the basil for added nutrition, and use raw almonds in place of the pine nuts.

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  37. Olive oil is such a great, healthy fat for you and the regular amount is NOT bad for you at all!!!

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  38. I was thinking about using garbanzo beans in place of pine nuts. This seems like it would bulk it up quite a bit.

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  39. I have a nut-allergic daughter, so basically make this version of pesto already :) Sometimes I add either sunflower or pepitas/pumpkin seeds as a nut substitute!

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  40. We just had pesto last night. I was just telling my fiance that I wanted to try to make it homemade, instead of the packet - is there a way to make it without a food processor?

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  41. Does anyone know how long this would keep in the refrigerator or should I just freeze it? Also, Gina-I LOVE all the recipes I've tried from your site! Everything is quick, simple, fresh & healthy!! Also it's usually made with common ingredients, no running around trying to find strange ingredients I'll only use once! GREAT JOB & my family thanks you too!!

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  42. Gina, I to do not have a food processor . Can I use a blender or a mini prep processor? The mini prep does not have an opening at the top to pour oil in. Can I add a little at a time and try to blend it that way?

    Thank you

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  43. Jade, cooks illustrated recommended. Covering with plastic wrap directly on it or a thin layer of olive oil. More calories that way. It can be stored in an airtight container, for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Either way the thin layer of olive and plastic wrap is good. Good luck

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  44. I made a double batch in the mini prep. I tried it and it came out great. I then put it with the basil pesto chicken. Great dinner. The rest I will freeze. Thanks Gina .

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  45. Fantastic pesto. I'd been using the Jane Brody recipe with some broth, but so not necessary. I'd been going to that trouble for nothing, as it turns out. I doubled it but kept the olive oil at slightly less than 1/4 cup (4 T) and it's absolutely fine. Figured I could shave a little bit and not harm taste, which turned out to be true. I WILL county 2 PP per tablespoon tho!

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  46. Can I use day old basil leaves? They turned color in less than 24 hours.

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    1. You won't get that green vibrant color if you do.

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  47. I want to make Pesto for my relatives as Christmas gifts. I far in advance can I make it? Does it have to be frozen or refrigerated?

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  48. Love this!

    Because pine nuts are expensive here, I used walnuts. And fresh basil isn't as common where I live (in Southeast Asia) so I make it using fresh coriander (cilantro).

    Comes out beautifully; made some angel-hair pesto pasta last night and my dad, who isn't a pasta person LOVED it.

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  49. Will it come out ok if I replace the basil with fresh spinach?!

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    1. It will have a *completely* different flavor, as the basil is the main, most flavorful ingredient in the dish. The basil is what makes pesto taste like pesto.

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  50. How long does this last in the fridge?

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  51. I used a mix of basil and lemon basil. This was SO GOOD! Even my husband who turns his nose at things that are green ate a fair amount. Thanks for the recipe!

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  52. DELISH!! I did 1 T coconut oil and 1.5 T olive (my coconut oil is liquid right now). Also, I used a HUGE clove of garlic so mine had some kick. I thought it might have too much kick for the kids so I mixed most of it with a jar of whole peeled tomatoes for a wonderful pasta sauce (just needed a little extra sea salt since the tomatoes are JUST tomatoes). I also had some broccoli stems left over (the tough part that most people don't like to eat) and threw those in. Couldn't taste it but just upped the vitamin content. My kids at 3 helping of ravioli with the basil tomato sauce! Thanks for the recipe!

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  53. First time i made pesto!Its something we eat rarely but i like it a lot!!the lovely smell and the Parmesan cheese...mmmmmm...I made it for your recipe the chicken kebabs and i liked it very much!will make again!thanks a lot!!!!

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  54. thank you for sharing this recipe, I love pesto but how u said it is very fat so I try don't eat too often .. I will make it tonight ;)

    Bea

    lovelivingabroad.blogspot.co.uk

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  55. I have used a mixture of Basil and Spinach and it turns out great. I read a recipe in a magazine that says to add a little water in place of the oil. Makes for a lighter tasting pesto.

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  56. Gina, I just made this for the first time and LOVED it. I used it as a spread on whole grain bread topped with roasted veggies (summer squash, zucchini, grape tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onion), and some fresh mozzarella cheese. DELISH. Thank you!

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  57. I have been searching for a good pesto recipe. I just tried this one, made a double batch but kept the oil amount for a single batch. I added lemon zest and the juice of a half lemon. I also added red pepper flakes for a kick. It is so good! I am on to zucchini muffins and added a tablespoon of pesto to the recipe. Thanks!!!!

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  58. Just wondering if the cup of basil is packed or loose?

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  59. I was tried to make Pesto sauce tonight but it came out sour. What could I have done wrong?

    Thanks

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  60. To save on calories, I usually use Balsamic Vinegar to substitute for most of the olive oil! Delicious :)

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  61. To save on calories, I usually use Balsamic Vinegar to substitute for most of the olive oil! Delicious :)

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  62. Just made this with the last of the basil from my garden. I toasted 2 tablespoons sliced almonds (for about 10 minutes at 350), and added them to my food processor with everything else, By my reckoning, it's adds about 18 calories per tablespoon. Great recipe--it's really yummy.

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  63. For a change, my daughter and I love Sundried Tomato pesto. To make it myself, can I use this recipe and swap the basil out for sundried tomatoes? Or do you think I should include some basil still? I used Oliveri's last night and just about killed my points.

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    1. I toss sundried tomatoes in with my pesto when I'm making a pasta dish -it adds little bursts of tomato yumm!

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  64. I can't wait to make this! I can't have pine nuts, so this pesto looks perfect!

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  65. Make it with Baby spinach,,, it too is De-lis

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  66. Made your Pesto Baked Chicken eariler this week, so good! I had some leftover pesto and tossed 1 tablespoon of it with 1.5 lbs of roasted red potatoes for dinner tonight - amazing! Thanks - love your blog!

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  67. HOW MUCH PESTO WOULD YOU USE TO A POUND OF PASTA?

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  68. Thank you so much!!! I am extremely allergic to pine nuts!!! Love this recipe :D

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  69. Hi! Absolutely love your site! We use it all week long! I cut out half of the oil and added skim milk instead to make a cream pesto to serve over whole wheat gnocchi. It was a huge hit in our house

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  70. I just recently discovered that I LOVE pesto. I've been missing out ALL these years. Had it for my 43rd birthday a few weeks ago and could not get over its flavor. I knew I had seen your recipe posted before so I whipped your version up today and it is amazing! I added a small squeeze of lemon.

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  71. Do you have to mince the garlic before, or do you put an entire clove of garlic in the food processor?

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  72. This receipe is fabulous. Helpful hint that I use is, after pesto is placed in jar & top flattened out press a grape leaf on top which will reduce oxidation.

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  73. I leave out the cheese entirely, it can always be added later, and you really can't tell the difference in taste. Plus, leaving out the cheese is better for freezing I believe too. You can always grate parmesan on your dish and control the amount.

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