Recently I bought a ginormous bag of fresh parsley at Harris Teeter, with great intention to sprinkle into a mustard potato salad I was making. Once I used the requisite teaspoon of parsley required, I was left with approximately six more cups and no game plan. I decided, impulsively, to see if I could make a pesto out of parsley. As I began combining my ingredients, I realized I also did not have pine nuts. I did, however, have walnuts – so toasted and chopped they were, and into the mix they went. It actually turned out pretty yummy – once tossed with my pasta, I would never have guessed it was parsley.
Chop chop chop chop chop.
Pesto is not exactly known as a health food, due to it’s caloric density. In my version (compliments of my kitchen-savvy Aunt Jennifer), there is olive oil, Parmesan cheese, red wine, walnuts, lemon juice, pine nuts and basil. Well, in this case, walnuts and parsley. However, there are great health perks from the olive oil, walnuts and red wine. Parsley, another native of the Mediterranean, is an overlooked powerhouse of nutrients. With portion control applied, my parsley pesto can be a health happy food too.
Parsley, known most often as a pretty garnish on the plate that your hamburger comes on, is underestimated herb. Turns out parsley is an excellent source of vitamin C & vitamin A, as well as vitamin K. Vitamin C is one of our major sources of antioxidants, which protect the body from free radicals damage and improve iron absorption. (Which means if you actually eat the parsley under your hambruger, you’ll eek out more iron from that burger. Woo!) Vitamin A, a fat soluble vitamin, has the mighty task of helping preserving your eye sight and combat viruses. Vitamin K also prevents oxidative damage and helps your blood clot normally. ALL THAT in that forgotten about little sprig. And did I mention it tasted delicious all ground up in my blender with parmesan cheese and walnuts?
According to my fave calorie counter website, my recipe had 130 calories per servings (8 servings). With 1.5 oz of fusilli (160 cals) and 3 oz chicken (140), the whole combo clocks in at 430 calories. Pair with a small side salad with a 100-cal dressing or some raw veggies and hummus as an appetizer, and you have a truuuuuly decadent yet good for you meal. Oh and the best part, this is the EASIEST dish to make for big groups. Party time!
Aunt Jennifer’s Pesto Recipe:
2 cups basil (or parsley)
1/3 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 T red wine
2 T lemon juice
4 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
*Mix all in food processor. Toss over warm pasta. Add chicken, si vous plait.