Wow! Life has been in full swing lately. Things are happening so fast in our lives that my head is spinning. We’ve been having a blast, and feel so blessed for the direction things are headed. This fall, I have been asked by several different organizations to share my story, and to explain why I believe eating the way I do is so important. Public speaking makes me very nervous, but I don’t feel that I can pass up these opportunities. If I can help just one family improve their health, it will be worth it. I am also excited to be reaching a larger audience than ever after being given the opportunity to share some of my recipes on healthychild.org, DrGreene.com, and a few other sites! To top that off, I’m busy teaching two small girls how to be kind, caring little people, trying to figure out how I’m going to convince their future school district to serve real food, and I plan on debuting my first cookbook in spring 2011. So, if you’ve been wondering if I was turning my back on Healthnut Foodie, absolutely not. I’ve been cooking up lots of great goodies, I’ve just been having trouble finding the time to write about them. The fact that Ellie has starting “walking” makes it harder to stay seated at the computer as well. Corners and edges and bruises, oh my! I’m still here, and am getting super pumped for the upcoming months!
Now, about this pesto. With tomato season at its peak, we are enjoying the bounties of our garden almost daily. While I love fresh, raw ingredients, I was recently hit with a craving for comfort food. To be specific, I wanted a big plate of spaghetti. It seemed silly to open up a jar of tomato sauce when I had my own abundance of fresh tomatoes growing just 20 yards away. I didn’t want to spend all day simmering a sauce, so I decided to try a roasted tomato pesto. It turned out so delicious that I woke up before the girls to share it with you. This sauce is also easy peasy, economical, company worthy, and it is made with normal ingredients that everybody knows and loves. My roasted tomato pesto is also much lower in fat and calories than the traditional version. By roasting the tomatoes in a baking dish, you are able to retain all of the liquid that bakes out of them. This virtually calorie free “sauce” is then used as a replacement for almost all of the olive oil in basil pesto (and it tastes just as good, maybe better!).
Are you wondering why I chose to use walnuts in place of the traditional pine nuts? Me too. I think it was because when I refilled my pine nut stash (to make traditional basil pesto with my homegrown and phenomenal basil), I was appalled that they were charging $24.99/lb in the bulk bins. I seriously googled it right then and there. Apparently, pine nuts are becoming more popular, and there is this whole supply and demand issue. Whatever. Anyways, I couldn’t justify taking fresh ingredients from my garden, and then spending a fortune on a little nut. That just seemed nuts! (Sorry.) I had seen a recipe for a tomato tart with walnuts in the crust a while back, and thought that they could make a good substitution. It worked. Really well! Walnuts are also packed full of heart healthy omega 3’s, manganese (which can help improve the symptoms of eczema), and can help boost your cognitive skills (make you smart!).
This pesto tasted amazing tossed with fresh linguine, and then garnished with kalamata olive, fresh tomato, and basil. It also is a great dip for fresh bread or crostini. Your family will enjoy a comforting end of summer dinner, and you will be providing them with the nutrients and energy they need to get back into the swing of school. My roasted tomato and walnut pesto provides healthy fats, bone building calcium, immunity boosting garlic, and anti-bacterial basil. It can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, and is the perfect dinner for a busy night!
Tomatoes, about 1 1/2 cups, any variety, go for whatever is plump and ripe (or on sale!)
Garlic, 6 cloves
Fresh basil leaves, about 1/2 cup, fairly tightly packed
Walnuts, 1/3 cup, I used roasted
Parmigiano-reggiano, 1/3 cup
Extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp
Sea salt, 1/2 tsp + 1/2 tsp
Fresh ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp + 1/2 tsp
Instructions (Hands on time, 10 min. Total time, 30 min.)
Preheat oven to 375 for about 10 minutes.
While oven heats, coarsely chop about 1 1/2 cups tomatoes, trying to keep as much of the juice as possible. Place tomatoes in an 8 x 8 inch glass baking dish. Peel and smash 6 cloves of garlic (use the flat side of a chef’s knife). Add garlic to tomatoes. Using clean hands, toss tomatoes and garlic with 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, and 1/2 tsp each sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Transfer dish to oven, and bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. (If serving immediately with pasta, start heating your water when tomatoes have baked for 10 minutes.)
Remove dish from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes.
While tomatoes cool, place all remaining ingredients in a mini food processor (I would assume a blender would also work). Be sure to include the remaining 1/2 tsp each sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Pour tomatoes, garlic, and all juices into food processor. Blend for 2 – 3 minutes, until pesto has reached a nice, creamy consistency (see note below). Adjust seasonings, if necessary.
Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to three days. This pesto can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature.
Notes: Because tomatoes vary in water content, your pesto may be too runny or thick for your preference. To thin pesto, add an additional tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. To thicken pesto, add an additional tablespoon of walnuts. My girls loved this! I fed it to Ellie with a spoon, and got excited about the fact that I had come up with a way to include walnuts in baby food! This dish is naturally vegetarian and gluten free. To those with nut allergies, you may omit the walnuts and double the amount of cheese. Parmesan is salty, so you would want to also omit the second 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.
Does this sound delicious? You may also enjoy…