In a perfect world you would always have a vibrantly green basil plant growing on your kitchen windowsill, and ¼ cup of olive oil and ½ cup of pine nuts wouldn’t affect your hips at all. In my world, however, I have yet to plant some basil, the grocery store charges out the wazoo for it, and 102 grams of fat in one pan of pasta scares the bigeezes out of me. So I gave my friend pesto a little face lift. It’s still a work in progress, but it wasn’t bad the first time out of the gate, especially since I pretty much closed my eyes, crossed my fingers, and resolved myself to eat whatever despicable mess would turn out to be my dinner since I had no idea what I was doing. It didn’t turn out so bad though…
A long time ago I saw an asparagus pesto recipe on the FFV. Yesterday I was trying to figure out what the hell to make for dinner when little butternut squashes started dancing around in my head. “Hmmm…,” I said to myself, “Why not?” But before I begin I wish not to lead you astray so let me warn you that it would taste a lot better with all that olive oil in it, not to mention fresh basil (definitely go get some fresh basil), but the 30-some-odd grams of fat in my sauce pan is worth the missing flavor of the other 70ish. That’s 30-some-odd divided by 4 meals by the way, just remember that (you do need some fat or you will kick the bucket).
So basically I cubed up a small (1-1.5 lbs) butternut squash (I know you can’t see it, that spinachy green overtook every bit of orange), seasoned it with salt, pepper, basil, etc. and pan-fried it for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile I ground up 1/3 cup of whole raw almonds and 5 cloves garlic in a food processor. I added about 1 T olive oil, 1-2 T lemon juice, 2 T water, 1/8 – 1/4 C white wine, 1 T dried basil, 1-2 tsp oregano, and salt and pepper. Then I added about 2 cups packed baby spinach (this is where you would rather use fresh basil – and if so omit the dried stuff). I pulsed all that up in the Cuisinart and once the butternut squash was cooked and cooled enough I threw it in with the rest of the ingredients and pulsed some more. E va bene! Buon appetito!
I cooked about 12 ounces of spaghetti and there was a little pesto left over, which turned out to be pretty tasty on a tortilla chip.
This recipe isn’t perfect, but it’s a good base and a good way to incorporate more veggies into a pasta dish. Be creative! I would try adding some nutritional yeast if you make it. If you have a larger squash reserve some of the pan-fried pieces so you have some texture in your dish.