Hey Pesto! Quick, easy, delicious & nutritious pesto sauces

I love a pesto sauce, so quick, versatile and tasty and healthy – bit of a winning formula, don’t you think? I am on a sugar free quest right now (it is the subject of my next book), so I am working on as many fabulous sugar free recipes as possible, and pesto sauces are perfect.

Homemade in about 5 minutes, pesto sauces have long been one of my favourite go to solutions for any time when I have unexpected guests or simply run out of my prepped meals (and that does happen even to this self-crowned Queen of Prep). They can be stored easily for up to three days in the fridge and used not just with pasta meals, but on pizzas, in sandwiches, as dips, on chicken or salmon and the list goes on…….. See what I mean by versatile?

With pesto sauces, you don’t even have to rely on fresh leaves/veg, well I don’t, which is perfect if you return home as silly o’clock, as I did last month from LA, with horrible jet lag and absolutely no inclination to go anywhere or see anyone other than my sofa and Netflix.  Whilst I do usually have a store of frozen homemade meals, I always have a store of frozen veg.  Cauliflower, chopped spinach and even herbs.  And at times when the fridge is bare, they really do come in to their own when I need something quick and after a trip away, a hefty dose of nutrients.

I don’t want you to think though that pesto sauces are just about the times when I am tired, they most definitely are not.  I often use them to jazz up dinner parties – many a dull looking meal has been transformed by a gloriously glossy, beautifully jewel coloured, delicious pesto.  And for my 19-year-old son and his friends they are one of their most popular choices when they visit.  A huge bowl of pasta, homemade pesto and pulled chicken or tinned tuna are among their favourite meals, so easy to cook and there is miraculously very little mess.  Hallelujah!

So, my pesto sauces are whizzed in little more than 5 mins, less  time than it takes to cook some wholemeal pasta, courgetti or sweet potato pasta, and I have a fabulous nutritious and delicious meal that I will really enjoy.

I have put together a few of my fav pesto sauce recipes for you to try, but I would also like you to be brave and chuck in some of your favourite leaves & nuts, give them a whizz and see what you can create, maybe add chilli, or jalapenos and if you love it, let me know.

Method for all pesto’s.

Place all ingredients in food processor and blitz!  It’s as easy as that for all the recipes.  As you can see, I have often written 1 – 2 of ingredients, because we all have different tastes, and as long as you have the basic ingredients, just add or take away the garlic, parmesan and nuts to suit you.   Add salt and pepper to taste and you’re good to go.

It is important to note that with the olive oil, start with a little and add as required – as it is high in fat, I add splashes of water at the end to get the consistency I require, and I only ever use up to 1 tbsp on my own portion of courgetti.

Classic Basil Pesto 

  • 100g basil
  • 1 – 2 garlic cloves
  • 60g pine nuts
  • 50g parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Watercress & Brazil Nut Pesto

  • 100g watercress
  • Handful of basil
  • 40g brazil nuts, chopped
  • I squeezed lemon
  • 2 – 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 20g parmesan cheese

Spinach & Walnut Pesto

  • 100g spinach leaves
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 squeezed lemon
  • 2 – 3 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 30g parmesan cheese
  • 2 – 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Cauliflower Pesto

  • 1 medium cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 – 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 30g parmesan cheese

Red Pepper Pesto

  • 1 x jar peppers, drained
  • 1 – 2 garlic cloves
  • 70g blanched almonds or cashews (not blanched)
  • 40g parmesan cheese
  • 2 – 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil