If you’re looking for ways to preserve your garden produce, this simple, satisfying, freezable pesto makes use of fresh tomatoes and basil. Serve it fresh or defrosted, warmed or at room temperature. Use it atop warm spaghetti squash, “zoodles” (zucchini grated with a julienne peeler or other slicer that makes them thin like noodles), or pasta.
Doctor Up Your Almonds
The recipe gets a protein boost from almonds, but these and other nuts contain acids that can hinder digestion. Soaking and then dehydrating the almonds not only improves flavor and makes them crispy, it also decreases the acids and releases substances that actually aid digestion. You might be able to buy sprouted almonds (my local food co-op carries them), or you can soak and dry them yourself.
To soak and dehydrate almonds, place them in a bowl and add about twice as much water as nuts. Cover with a clean dish towel and soak about 7 hours or overnight, and then drain the water and rinse. Repeat if desired to remove even more of the acids. (If you plan to use the nuts for snacking, you can dissolve salt into the water, stirring in about 1 tablespoon for each 4 cups of nuts, during a single or final soak.) Place drained nuts on a baking sheet and dry in the oven on the lowest possible setting or in a dehydrator at about 115 degrees. Dry until crisp, 12 to 24 hours.
Seed Your Tomatoes
This recipe calls for optional seeded tomatoes. For sauces that you don’t want to be too soupy, or for salads, I like to seed my tomatoes, especially if they’re very juicy. Do this by halving or quartering them, then scooping out and discarding the seeds, juice, and inner pulp.
- 3/4 cup whole almonds (soaked and dehydrated, if desired)
- 1 cup lightly packed basil leaves (about 2/3 ounce)
- 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
- 2 cups halved or quartered and optionally seeded tomatoes (3 large to 4 small), or cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
- First, process the almonds separately to keep them from becoming too finely chopped as you later chop the basil and garlic. Place almonds in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until chopped into small bits. Remove and set aside.
- In the emptied bowl of the food processor place the basil, garlic, and salt, and pulse until fairly finely chopped and well-combined. Add the chopped almonds, tomatoes, and olive oil and process until tomatoes are chopped and all ingredients are combined. There should still be flecks of red tomato and green basil.
- Serve over warm spaghetti squash, zoodles (zucchini noodles), or pasta, garnished with chopped basil and optional grated Parmesan.
- Can be frozen. Defrost in the refrigerator or in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally until thawed and just warm, not hot.
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