Do you love pesto? Me too. But many people think that pesto has to be made of only basil, and that it needs to be served on pasta. In the summer when your garden is producing, or your CSA is delivering, an abundance of greens and veggies it’s time to make a tasty Garden Pesto using what you’ve got.
For the pesto use basil or parsley, and whatever greens you have. Arugula, chard, kale, or mustard are all great. You could even use the leaves from beets and broccoli.
I decided to serve this pesto with oven roasted summer squash (aka zucchini) instead of pasta…two for one! When you roast the summer squash in the oven you get a great low-carb, low-fat vehicle for any kind of sauce and flavor you want. Combine it with a garden pesto, and you have a healthy meal from the garden that is full flavored and uses up the abundant squash.
Here is what I used tonight: fresh summer squash, basil, kale, chard, roasted garlic, Parmesan cheese (grated), olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
Roast the summer squash by slicing them about 1/2 to 1/3 inch thick. Place them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and you don’t have to oil them at all. Roast them in a 375 degree oven. Depending on your oven heat this will take 30 to 45 minutes. You’ll turn the slices over once in the middle of that roasting time.
While your squash is roasting, place your greens in a food processor with some raw or roasted garlic and olive oil. I roast garlic ahead of time and freeze it in small amounts for just such occasions since I don’t like the lingering flavor of raw garlic. Add enough olive oil to blend everything together. I used about 1/2 cup of oil and this, along with 2 teaspoons of roasted garlic and about eight to ten cups of raw greens, made three cups of pesto once it was blended. Add about 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese once the greens are well chopped.
Your finished pesto will look like this. Any that you don’t eat immediately can be put in a container or covered with plastic wrap and used for up to a week or two. Use this pesto to top meat, fish, tofu, or any cooked vegetable. Add it to no-fat yogurt or sour cream for a dip for fresh veggies. Combine it with an avocado and some lemon juice for a salad dressing. Or just eat it with a spoon out of the bowl because it tastes so fantastic.
Here is how the summer squash looks when it’s done. This is a great way to prepare zucchini when you have lots of it because you can then take this roasted squash and add it to anything. Add it to tomato sauce for pasta. Use it with tofu and any Asian flavorings or sauces you with. Roasted summer squash can go in any ethnic direction for main dishes, sides or salads. Use it in an omelette for breakfast. If we thought about it for more than ten minutes I’m sure we could come up with a killer dessert as well.
Top the roasted summer squash with pesto and serve with a dish of grated Parmesan cheese on the side.
You can also serve this pesto on fresh summer squash that has been very lightly pan fried in just a bit of oil or butter. Put olive oil or butter in in a pan, add the summer squash and cover, reducing the heat to medium. In about 4 minutes stir and cover again. In three to four more minutes pour the squash in a bowl, mix with the pesto and serve. To make this the main dish you could add chunks of goat cheese and serve it with a crusty bread.