Fresh Pesto with RicottaYum
Everyone has their standard kitchen staples that they keep stocked in the pantry or in the fridge….the key ingredients that are reached for most often when cooking (or baking) up favorite recipes. Extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, basil….and Parmesan cheese are a few of my favorites. Homemade pesto is another. Typically I keep a small mason jar filled with fresh pesto in my fridge so I can add it to soups, eggs, and sandwiches. To me, pesto makes everything it touches more delicious.
I found the recipe for this simple appetizer is my “Summertime Anytime Cookbook”, by Dana Slatkin. It’s just another simple way to put pesto to good use. Spread a little fresh pesto and ricotta cheese on thinly sliced pieces of baguette, ciabatta or another crusty bread. The ricotta tames the pesto a bit and creates a creamy, mellow and completely addicting appetizer or snack.
Besides being tasty and some of my favorite ingredients to add to recipes…. garlic, olive oil, and basil, offer so many benefits to our overall health. Pine nuts are typically added to pesto…but I often times pass on them. Too expensive. Sometimes I might add walnuts instead, but mostly I leave nuts out altogether.
Fresh Pesto with Ricotta
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Total Time: 15 minutes
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 loaf ciabatta or other crusty bread, thinly sliced
- 8 ounces fresh ricotta cheese
- Combine the basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, nuts, and garlic in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until the leaves are minced finely.
- Add the olive oil and pulse to blend, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Transfer the pesto to an airtight container and cover with a thin layer of olive oil to keep it from browning.
- Garlic is one of the oldest medicinal foods on the planet. Garlic lowers triglycerides and cholesterol and it prevents blood clots. It has anti inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-hypertensive, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-parasitic, and anticancer properties (all of which have been documented in over 1,200 pharmacological studies).
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil has anti-cancer benefits, as well as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant benefits. Any food that is rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients offers the benefit of lowering our risk of heart problems. Extra-virgin olive oil also offers digestive benefits. Studies have shown that lower rates of digestive tract cancers are found in countries that regularly consumed olive oil (Mediterranean diet). Improved cognitive function is a well-known benefit of a Mediterranean diet.
- Basil is rich in carotenoids such as beta-carotene, and it's a good source of magnesium, which promotes cardiovascular health by relaxing muscles and blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering the risk of irregular heart rhythms and cardiovascular spasms. Basil has powerful antioxidant properties, which helps to combat many forms of cancer. When used as a skin and hair moisturizer, the essential oils of basil enhance the luster of dull looking skin and hair. Basil has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits. Evidence shows that the antioxidants and essential oils in basil helps build a strong immune system.
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