Presto! It’s Pesto


What’s an amazingly easy recipe that tastes as good as restaurant food—and is healthy too? Pesto. This luscious garlicky green sauce takes only five minutes to whip up in a blender or food processor.

AICR’s version uses summer–fresh basil, garlic and tomatoes, as well as healthful spinach, nuts and olive oil. You get a wide variety of cancer–fighting phytochemicals—ranging from flavonoids in basil and lutein in the spinach to phenols in olive oil and organosulfur compounds in the garlic.

In addition to whole–wheat pasta, this pesto tastes terrific on steamed veggies like broccoli, cauliflower or green beans. You also might try substituting an equal amount of chopped walnuts for the pine nuts or almonds. Just remember to mince your garlic first and let it sit for 10–15 minutes before using it. Mincing and exposing it to air oxidizes garlic, which activates its phytochemicals to be their most protective.

Pesto will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days covered tightly, but try and use it as soon as you can to get the full flavor of the fresh basil.

Spinach Pesto Pasta

  • 16 oz. whole-wheat linguini pasta
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach, loosely packed
  • 2 Tbsp. pine nuts or slivered almonds
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Small handful of basil leaves, without stems
  • 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • 3 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, place in a large serving bowl, cover to maintain warmth and set aside.

Meanwhile, place spinach, nuts and garlic in a food processor or blender. Pulse until chopped. Add basil, Italian seasoning, cheese, salt and pepper. Pulse to mix. Slowly add broth, olive oil and lemon juice. Process until well blended.

Add pesto to warm pasta and toss gently to coat. Top with tomatoes and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 310 calories, 11 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat),
45 g carbohydrate, 9 g protein, 6 g dietary fiber, 260 mg sodium.

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