I’m obsessed with basil pesto this summer. Maybe it’s the fact that the basil I’ve been getting in my CSA baskets is so fragrant, or maybe it is simply that my body is craving the antioxidants, magnesium and vitamins it contains. Either way, I’ve been experimenting with different pesto ingredient combinations and this is my favorite. As a bonus, this basil pesto recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free, making it perfect for anyone with food sensitivities.
Health Benefits of Basil
Basil is rich in antioxidants that help fight free radical damage and slow the effects of aging. It also helps fight inflammation, which is at the root of most long-term disease. Basil contains phytochemicals which help prevent cancer, and has antimicrobial properties which help fight viruses and infection. In addition, it has an alkalinizing effect on the body, facilitates digestion, supports liver function and detoxification, and has been shown to stimulate neurotransmitters that help fight depression.
I especially love this homemade pesto paired with zucchini noodles. It makes for such a simple and healthy summer dish. If you’re new to spiralizing, you can learn more about it and the appliance I use here.
What is your favorite way to eat pesto? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
- 1 large garlic head
- 1/4 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
- 4 tablespoons hemp seeds
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Slice the top off the garlic bulb so all the individual garlic cloves are trimmed. Place the garlic bulb on a square of aluminum foil and drizzle the top of the cloves with 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil. Wrap the garlic bulb entirely in the foil and place it on the baking sheet.
- Roast the garlic for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven, carefully unwrap the foil, and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Squeeze the roasted cloves out of the bulb and into a blender or food processor.
- Add all remaining ingredients and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed and/or adding a touch more oil if necessary to get it going.