Make It Monday Recipe Week 13: Budget-Friendly Pesto

Pesto is so versatile! In warm weather, use pesto on cold pasta favorites, such as fusilli, gemelli, or elbow noodles. Add chopped tomatoes and serve on a bed of lettuce. In cooler weather, serve pesto on hot pasta, such as capellini, spaghetti or linguine. Or, use it any time on sandwiches, pizza, salads or crackers. 

Cost Savings?

Skip the expensive, as well as the cheap, pine nuts ingredient – especially since you can’t count on them being healthy anyway! (read about poisoned pine nut here)  Use budget-friendly walnuts or even more budget-friendly sunflower seeds. We’ve discovered that by using raw cashews (not so super budget-friendly), we can omit parmesan cheese and not miss it. Try it and tell me what you think!

Grow your own basil, and the cost of making pesto goes down. (Inspiration – here)

I can’t say that making my own pesto has the same cost benefits as making my own hummus -here-. But what I can say is that each time I make it, it yields more than the store-bought quantity. And, any DIY recipe is preservative-free. Win-win!

Variations on Classic Pesto

This recipe is adapted from the one in 100 Days of Real Food Cookbook, by Lisa Leake. Again, we found that by using raw cashews, we do not miss the parmesan cheese at all. Vegans often use cashews to make cheese substitutes.

Make a big batch and freeze it in ice cube trays or in portions of 2-3 Tablespoons in a ziplock freezer bag.

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Ingredients for DIY Pesto – Makes 4 servings – I usually double this recipe for my family of 5.

1 ¾ cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves

1 ¼ cups loosely packed fresh shredded stemmed kale leaves

¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I don’t miss adding this when using raw cashews)

½ cup raw cashews (or budget-friendly walnuts, or even more budget-friendly sunflower seeds)

3 peeled garlic cloves

⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tablespoons butter

Salt and ground pepper to taste

*whenever possible use organic and/or NON-GMO ingredients

Method – see photos above

Enjoy pesto year-round with this great recipe! Make It Monday for long-term health for you and your family! As I like to say, Your Health is Your Wealth! Invest well!

~Aimee, TFF



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