The original version of this AIP pesto was a complete accident. Mr Meatified was kind enough to do the grocery shopping run – we live about an hour away from stores, so this is no small volunteering effort! – and came home with the saddest looking mixed bag of arugula and spinach ever. It didn’t look like the salad leaves were going to make it much past the next day before giving up the ghost, so I decided to toss ’em in the food processor with some fresh basil from the garden to make a quick pesto sauce with a good glug of olive oil, along with a handful of green onions and some lemon juice. The end result was good enough that I decided to make it again: on purpose, this time!
So for my second “this time I’ll measure my ingredients” round of AIP pesto makin’, I started off with the same basic ingredients, but I wanted to see if I could get a texture that was more reminiscent of traditional pesto. I wanted to keep this nut free, so I decided to experiment with adding a little unsweetened shredded coconut to stand in for the usual pine nuts you’ll find in pesto recipes.
Although the coconut is naturally a little sweet, the coconut flavor doesn’t come through because of the vibrant combination of greens holding the flavor fort. It does add a lovely extra dimension, bringing some extra texture that a simple herb+olive oil blend doesn’t have and thickening the pesto up so that it’s a spreadable consistency. For a little extra umami, I added a couple of tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Although not truly “cheesy’ in flavor, it brings a savory note to the background of the pesto that really brings out the freshness of the greens and balances out all the flavors nicely.
I dollop this AIP pesto on all kinds of things. It makes a great burger topper and pairs wonderfully with roast chicken. I’ll swirl it through soup before serving and toss it through salads with a little extra olive oil in lieu of a dressing. You can dip veggies into it as is, or mix it into other dips, like my AIP Garlic & Artichoke Hummus.
This AIP pesto is a great thing to keep stashed in your fridge so that you can add it to meals throughout the week for a quick flavor boost – it will keep for at least a week in an mason jar – yay!
- PROCESS: Add the spinach and arugula mix to the bowl of a food processor; pulse until roughly chopped to reduce the volume and make room for the other ingredients. Scrape down the sides and add the basil, green onions, olive oil and lemon juice. Process together, scraping down the sides as needed. When all the greens are combined, add the coconut, nutritional yeast and salt. Process until you have a thick yet almost smooth consistency. Test and adjust salt, if needed.
- STORE: Transfer the pesto to a mason jar or two (I filled one 1/2 pint jar and one 1/4 pint jar) and store in the fridge. Will keep for at least a week because of the olive oil!
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