Pesto doesn’t have to be naughty. You also don’t need to pay $7 a bottle for it. Here are the healthy twists I made to create this fast, fresh and light pesto:
1) Swap basil for baby spinach: We all know that unless it is growing in your garden, basil can be pricey. Baby spinach is the perfect swap – just 4 oz gives you over a cup of pesto! And, if you’re anything like most Americans, you could probably use a few extra servings of leafy greens in your diet. I know I could. BTW spicy arugula or parsley work just as well!
2) Reduce the oil: One perk to making your own pesto is that you control the fat and calories. I made this batch with just one tablespoon of olive oil and instead relied on garlic, lemon juice and good quality parmigiano regiano to boost flavor.
3) Control sodium: I love salt as much as the next person but I prefer to use it for seasoning, not as a cheap flavor enhancer which is usually the case for processed foods. Again, by making it yourself, you control the sodium.
4) Freeze the leftovers: Pesto freezes extremely well – just throw it in a small plastic bag and you will be thrilled to discover it in your freezer during a desperate week night dinner rush. I love using pesto with pastas, salad dressings or in dips!
Your grill is waiting.
Grilled Chicken Breasts with Pesto
- 4 chicken breasts
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- 4 oz baby spinach
- 2 tbs toasted pine nuts
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 tbs lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ⅓ c parmesan cheese grated
- Pre-heat grill to high and brush chicken breasts with ½ of the olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Grill chicken breasts for 5-7 minutes per side or until cooked through.
- In a food processor, combine spinach with toasted pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest and Parmesan cheese. Whirl to combine.
- Slowly drizzle in remaining olive oil until puree forms.
- Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Serve on top of chicken breasts.
- Leftover pesto can be frozen for later use – simply pour in a sandwich sized plastic bag and freeze.