Homemade Pesto - Basil Leave for your Pasta

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Homemade Pesto Sauce

There are a few commonly chosen pasta sauces available in most restaurants when we dine out, namely Carbonara/ Alfredo, Bolognese/ Marinara/ Pomodoro/ Arrabbiata, Aglio e Olio, and basil pesto. If you are in a mood of having a healthier choice of pasta sauce, basil pesto is probably the right one for you.

The differences between every type of pasta sauce are highly reliant on the ingredients used. Before sharing the ingredients used in this basil pesto recipe, I have found out about the differences between different types of pasta sauce, especially the white sauce and the red sauce.

White Sauces
Carbonara is generally comprised of pancetta (which is the bacon), egg yolks, heavy cream, garlic, and freshly ground black pepper. Cheese will also be added during the cooking process.
Alfredo is a combination of butter and heavy cream as its base. Garlic and parsley are added. Looking at the ingredients, preparation of carbonara is easy, but Alfredo is even easier.

Red Sauces
Bolognese is primarily a meat sauce, added with mushrooms, carrots, celery, tomatoes, tomato sauce, wine, stock, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.
Marinara is a very basic Italian sauce. It consists of tomatoes, garlic, onions and herbs. 
Pomodoro is a sauce with tomatoes as a base. It provides the base for many of pizzas.
Arrabbiata sauce is a spicy sauce for pasta made from garlic, tomatoes, and dried red chili peppers cooked in olive oil, it tastes spicy.

Aglio e olio used simple ingredients - the sliced garlic, olive oil, sometimes with the addition of dried red chili flakes.


Homemade Pesto Recipe

To prepare a homemade basil pesto needs a fair bit of work, which is the blending part. But the fresh flavour definitely worth the effort. You can make some adjustment in the amount of ingredients based on your own preference.

All you need is just 5 main ingredients:
  • 45g (1/4 cup) cashew nuts (alternative: pine nuts)
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced (make it more, garlic is good)
  • 60g (3/4 cup) shredded parmesan cheese (you can cut down the amount)
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil (it can be reduced to just 3 tablespoons)
*Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Yield: 1 cup (for 1 pack of pasta/ 375g of linguine)

  1. Cook the pasta.
  2. Process basil, nuts, garlic and parmesan cheese, until almost smooth. Add oil in a slow, steady stream. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Put the cooked and drained linguine into the pasta sauce pot and mix well. 

Basil Pesto Linguine Pasta with bacon

Basil Pesto Linguine Pasta with mashed potatoes and bacon

Basil is a culinary herb. It's usually been dried up and used as an accompaniment to many roast dishes but it also tastes good stirring up raw in a bowl of pesto pasta. Some people may not like the taste as it has a strong scent. Some people just can't help but fall in love with it. And what's so good about basil?

There are some possible health benefits associated with basil.

"Basils contain a wide range of essential oils rich in phenolic compounds and a wide array of other natural products including polyphenols such as flavonoids and anthocyanins." R1
This explained it's antioxidants activity, despite it's not a significant amount when comparing to the antioxidant activity of green tea.
Basils have antibacterial properties, and it may have anti-inflammatory qualities.
Basil seeds and leaves are good sources of minerals and calorie-light, containing just 22 calories per 100 grams. [Sources include: USDA]

there is something you need to understand.
The amount of raw or dried basils that we usually consumed is not as much to show a distinct impact on our body in a short period of time, be it the antibacterial or the anti-inflammatory properties. Same goes for any other foods, herbs or spices.
It is indeed a good source of minerals, but it is far from meeting the recommended nutrient requirement, as we do not usually take them in a significant amount.
Each food may provide different health benefits. Afterall, it's all about eating in moderation. Be mindful.

P/s: Pesto Pasta idea provided by Yap Norman

Homemade Pesto Sauce

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