Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spinach Basil Pesto

For all of you out there who are in the middle of your own Elimination Diet, I've got something you are going to LOVE. You are just going to want to give me the biggest hug after you try this. Hey, even those of you who aren't doing the diet are going to love this!

Homemade Pesto! 

Those of you who haven't made your own pesto will be surprised at how easy it is. And it tastes SO much better than any of that canned stuff you buy at the grocery store.

Here's what you'll need . . .

1 1/2 cups of baby spinach
3/4 cups of fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds (the kind that have already been taken out of the shell.)
2-4 cloves of garlic (depending on how spicy your garlic is and your personal taste.)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil

Brown Rice Pasta
Red Onion
Extra Sunflower Seeds

This is a Spinach-Basil Peso sauce.

I got the recipe off of one of my favorite websites All Recipes. The original recipe is here. As you can see, I've altered it just a bit to fit my place in the elimination diet. I didn't use any Parmesan cheese. And instead of pine nuts, I used sunflower seeds. You don't have to make these changes, but this is how I did it.

You'll be using your food processor, which makes it super easy.

I started with the Spinach and the Basil. I'm not sure if I used the exact amounts that I was supposed to - I might have added a bit more basil, but that's just because I couldn't get enough of the smell! Is there anything better than basil?

Add your sunflower seeds. Like I mentioned above, the original recipe called for pine nuts, but since I wasn't to the point in the diet where I could add tree nuts, I used some sunflower seeds that I found in the cabinet. Mitch bought them earlier in the week as a snack, and they happened to work perfectly for this recipe. They give the pesto just the right texture.

And Garlic. The great thing about All Recipes is that you can read other people's reviews of the recipe. The original recipe called for 4 cloves of garlic, but some people out there found that 4 cloves was way too much. Of course, this all depends on your garlic and how much of that garlic flavor you love.

Mitch and I love garlic, but I didn't want it to be too over-powering, so I added the garlic in slowly. I ended up using about 2 1/2 cloves. It definitely had some kick, but it was delish!

Salt, Pepper, Lemon Juice and Lemon Zest are all next. I got to use my fruit squeezer that y'all know I LOVE! Also, I don't have a zester, but my peeler has a kind of grater on the other side of it so I worked with what I had! It all came out the same.

You want to throw all these ingredients in with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Process it until it's nearly smooth. At this point you can test your mixture with the garlic- add more if you think it needs it.

Keep adding little bits of olive oil until you get a nice smooth consistency.

We used this pesto to make a yummy pasta salad. I used brown rice pasta which I found in the gluten-free section of my grocery store. It made an odd consistency in the noodle soup I made a few days ago, but it was perfect on it's own. Just make sure to drain it well, and rinse it off well too. Normally I wouldn't recommend rinsing off pasta, but with rice pasta it's a must.

And look at how weird the water draining from it looks! It's like a gel!


Add some peas and finely chopped red onion to your pasta.

Then add your pesto!

I also had some Sunflower seeds left over so I threw the rest in with the pasta.

And oh my goodness is it delicious!

I'm not a pasta person. Especially since I changed my diet last year. But this was a great lunch for us while on this diet. Mitch even added some chicken breast to it later and it was perfect.

Give it a try. I swear it's easier than you think, and it tastes so fresh and wonderful. And you have control of the flavor, to change it however you like, which is something you can't do with pre-made pasta. Love!

Love love love!

Happy Thursday, readers!


  1. Now that I've read that, I really want more!

  2. I continue to refer to this all of the time. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. What a great compliment! Thank you!

  4. I'm a vegan on an elimination diet and my husband and I were looking for a different way to do pesto since our old way of dong it involved tofu/soy. This was really good. My husband told me he liked it better than the pesto we used to make. It was nice to have something we both enjoyed that works with this temporary diet.
    Also, we cooked mushrooms on the side and added them and it was really good with it.


I love your feedback! Leave a comment and let me know what you think, and feel free to send me an email any time.