Well Being

Spring Table: Herb Pesto (No Basil Required)

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You don’t need to wait until high basil season to enjoy fresh pesto—many different herbs will do. “Try sage, arugula, oregano or marjoram,” advises Nishanga Bliss in her new cookbook and guide to seasonal eating Real Food All Year. “Pesto is also a great way to use the stems of parsley and cilantro when you have used the leaves for other dishes.” It’s also not dependent on pine nuts, though many pesto recipes call for them. Swapping other raw nuts and herbs for pine nuts and basil can also help keep down pesto-making costs.

The following herb pesto recipe comes from Real Food All Year’s spring section. Bliss—an acupuncturist, nutritionist and professor of Chinese medicine—recommends the versatile condiment because it combines the nutritional benefits of greens with healthy fats and, in this case, probiotics. “Either the traditional Parmesan or white miso (available at natural food stores and Asian markets) adds a deep, savory flavor as well as digestive enzymes,” she explains.

Herb Pesto from Real Food All Year

(Makes 1 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup raw, unsalted walnuts, almonds or other nuts
1 bunch parsley, coarsely chopped (stems okay)
1 bunch basil or cilantro (stems okay)
1 clove garlic or 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped green garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 or 2 lemons
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese or 2 tablespoons white or chickpea miso
Sea salt


Soak the nuts overnight in water to cover.

The next morning, drain the nuts, discarding the soaking water. Place them in your food processor or blender and process into a fine paste.

Add the parsley, cilantro, and garlic and process until finely ground. Add the olive oil and process until incorporated, and then add lemon juice and more salt if needed to get a flavor you like.

Store the pesto in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days, or freeze for several months.

Excerpted with permission by New Harbinger Publications, Inc. Real Food All Year, Nishanga Bliss.