Every year, our wee backyard garden is a bit of an experiment. Some things have grown successfully and some have, well, not. It's always exciting when something flourishes and provides ready, fresh ingredients for our meals. For instance, the small, organic parsley plant I added to our garden patch this summer cooperated and blossomed into a rather large bush over the growing season. Since it is the only thing left growing alongside the cold-weather plants; collards, kale and butternut squash, I wanted to use some of it before the frost descends. I decided to try making pesto with it, and it's delicious! This pesto recipe does not contain cheese so it is dairy-free. It is also brimming with health-promoting whole foods.
Parsley pesto can be used like any basil-based one, mixed into a pasta dish, spread on chicken before baking, or dropped by the dollop into soup. It's great as a minestrone topper!
by Tracey Ratelle-Westdorp
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
1. Pick parsley leaves from the thick stems (thin stems can remain) and place in measuring cup until you have about 1 1/2 cups, tightly packed. Add parsley to food processor with S-blade, or high-speed blender.
2. Add remaining ingredients to processor/blender with parsley. Process for 2-3 minutes until it’s a paste. Scrape into an airtight jar and tightly close. Let rest for at least one hour, the longer the better for flavours to develop. Store in fridge for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.
* It’s important for the pesto to be stored in an airtight container to preserve all of the delicate oils.
Why these ingredients are heart-lovin' :
Parsley - Like all fresh herbs, provides an array of nutrients which are beneficial to health. The volatile oils in parsley have been found to inhibit tumour formation in animal studies and have an antioxidant effect on the body's cells. The flavonoids found in parsley have been found to boost antioxidant capacity in the blood which can help protect blood vessels from damage. Further, parsley is an excellent source of vitamin K, an important nutrient needed for proper blood clotting of wounds and strong bone formation to help prevent fractures. It also provides a good source of vitamins C and A. Vitamin C is also an important antioxidant for the body helping to protect blood vessels from damage, and it helps to support a strong immune system. Vitamin A helps to prevent degenerative conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Extra-Virgin Olive oil (EVOO)- One of it’s most important benefits is the capacity to reduce inflammation in the body. This anti-inflammatory property has been found in studies to be helpful in preventing heart disease. EVOO also has a blood sugar balancing effect which can have a positive influence on weight loss and diabetes. It also has anti-cancer benefits because of it’s antioxidant properties.
Garlic - We know that garlic can help boost our immune system, but did you know it is also a heavy-hitter when it comes to protecting our hearts and cardiovascular system? Garlic helps to reduce the inflammation that can cause damage to our cardiovascular system. It’s antioxidant properties further help to protect our blood vessels from inflammatory damage, and it’s anti-platelet activity helps to reduce harmful blood clots inside the veins.
Walnuts - Not only are walnuts an excellent source of health-supporting omega-3 fats, they also have several cardiovascular supporting abilities. They help to; decrease LDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure, decrease inflammation, prevent platelet clumping that can lead to blood clots. They also help improve blood vessel wall flexibility.
Lemon - Due to a high vitamin C content, lemons can provide further support in preserving the health of our cardiovascular system. Vitamin C acts a very important antioxidant in the body because it is water soluble so can travel all over neutralizing free radicals everywhere it is needed. Preventing free radical damage to the blood vessels and heart can help to ward off heart disease. We also know that vitamin C boosts our immune systems which can help prevent colds, flus and other illnesses.
Sea salt - Unlike processed table salt, sea salt provides health-promoting minerals and trace elements. These minerals help to balance electrolytes in the body, and have a positive effect on blood pressure.