Pesto is popular Italian sauce or condiment that has a few simple ingredients. In a recent post we discussed planting a kitchen herb garden. You can use these fresh herbs and others to make different types of pestos.
The basic ingredients of pesto include:
In a food processor, combine the herbs, nuts, and garlic until well ground. Slowly add the olive oil until a paste is formed. Gently mix in the cheese, salt & pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Store in the refrigerator or freezer for later use.
Let’s explore some varieties of pesto and their uses.
A classic pesto is made with basil and pine nuts. This is a perfect sauce to coat warm pasta or to layer on top of fresh salmon for baking.
For a bitter herb pesto, use arugula for the fresh green component and lightly toasted walnuts for the nuts. This is also excellent on pasta and pairs well with mild proteins, such as grilled chicken breast.
Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that works quite well as the herb ingredient in pesto. The spinach will give you a creamier consistency and a rich green color. Spinach pesto is mild in flavor and is a nice topping on hardy risotto and polenta dishes.
2-Herb Vegan Pesto
For the vegans in your family you will want to omit the cheese. A flavorful vegan pesto can be a combination of basil & parsley leaves. To get a rich and almost cheesy flavour, use lightly toasted raw cashews + 2 tsps of white miso paste. You might also consider adding a small amount of nutritional yeast. This version of pesto is excellent over grilled or baked tofu planks. It is also nice spooned on top of vegetable soup.
The Paleolithic Diet is all about non-starchy fruits and vegetables, high-quality protein, and healthy fats. There is nothing better than a grilled grass-fed flank steak with a chimichurri style of pesto spooned over the top just before serving. Use 1/2 parsley and 1/2 cilantro for the herbs. Eliminate the cheese and nuts. Add the juice of a small lemon and a pinch (or more) of cayenne pepper flakes.
You can find all the ingredients for making pesto at Famous Foods. Shop our variety of fresh produce, cheese, and bulk nuts and spices for your homemade pesto. For a quicker option, also check out our selection of authentic ready to use pestos in Aisle 8!
Growing herbs for your own cooking use can be very rewarding. There is nothing like a handful of freshly picked herb leaves. The aroma is fantastic, not to mention the flavor. If you are new to growing fresh herbs, here is a guide to help you get started.
Choosing Herb Seeds
There are a few classic herbs that are easy to grow from seed, either in pots or in a garden. You might want choose annuals for your outdoor garden and perennials for pots that can be placed outdoors in summer and brought inside in winter. Here are some good options:
Starting with Seeds
When you purchase your seeds, be sure to pick up some small biodegradable starter pots too. These pots hold moisture well, so find a sunny space in your home where the pots can sit for a few days or weeks until the seeds sprout into tiny plants.
Fill the pots with loose organic potting soil that drains well. Place a few seeds inside the soil of each pot, making sure they are covered with the soil. Place the pots on a sheet tray or other container to collect moisture. Water the pots generously, and keep the soil moist until the herbs sprout and become small sturdy plants that can be transplanted to a more permanent home.
Planting and Caring for your Herbs
If you are growing herbs outdoors in a garden or in a pot, it is best to wait until the weather is most appropriate.
Choose pots, such as terra cotta, plastic, or wood, that have holes in the bottom and a drip tray to catch excess water. Place a layer of gravel in the base of each pot, then fill with loose potting soil. Transfer the seedlings to the pots, being sure to leave adequate space between them for the roots to take hold. Place the pots in a sunny spot and water daily either at sunrise or sunset.
Prepare your garden by removing grass, weeds, and rocks. Loosen the soil with a pronged gardening rake or a shovel, then add some compost to the soil and turn to mix well. You will want 6 to 12 inches of soil depth. Plant your seedlings, again leaving several inches between plants. Water the garden as needed in the morning or evening.
Note that mint has a tendency to spread and choke out other plants. It has a long and sturdy root structure. I suggest planting mint in pots to contain it and prevent it from taking over the garden.
Harvesting and Using
Harvest the top leaves often so that the herbs do not bolt into flowers. Once an herb has flowered the leaves can have a bitter taste. Use the fresh leaves whole or chopped up in your favorite dishes. At the end of the growing season, before winter, you can cut the stems with leaves of the annuals and hang the plants to dry or store the leaves in baggies in the freezer for later use.
Be sure to check out the selection of seeds available at Famous Foods in Vancouver and start your kitchen herb garden this spring.
If you tend to spend a lot of time outdoors, make it a priority to apply sunscreen on a regular basis. It’ll give your skin an extra measure of protection against the sun’s powerful rays. Here are some valuable tips for choosing the right sunscreen.
What is SPF?
SPF is an abbreviation for sun protection factor. In the past, SPF 15 was considered the minimum amount necessary to shield your skin from sun damage. However, the Canadian Cancer Society has recently increased that number to an SPF of 30. People with lighter complexions may need an even higher SPF.
UVA and UVB Protection
In order to prevent premature wrinkles and lower your risk of getting skin cancer, you need the proper safeguards. When selecting a sunscreen, select one that’s labeled “broad spectrum”. This means it contains both UVA and UVB protection.
When to Apply and Reapply
Give sunscreen some time to absorb into your skin. The best approach is to apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before stepping outside. Reapplying sunscreen every two hours will go a long way towards protecting your skin. Keep in mind that water-resistant formulas don’t last as long. This is an especially important fact for swimmers to remember. After about 40 minutes, water-resistant sunscreen can start to lose its effectiveness. Reapply regularly.
Some people are allergic to certain ingredients in sunscreen. If you happen to experience a bad reaction to a sunscreen, search for one that’s specially formulated for use on sensitive skin. It shouldn’t contain any dyes, chemicals, or fragrances.
Regular sunscreen may be a bit too powerful for children under the age of six months. Fortunately, there are kid-friendly sunscreen lotions available. Most are made with natural ingredients that won’t irritate a child’s delicate skin.
Stay healthy and sunburn free this summer!
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