Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Going Green : Walnut Pesto and THE BEST Guacamole I've Ever Had

Today I would like to share with you guys two healthy dips and spreads that are heavy on the green, healthy fats and most importantly, the delicious factor.

First up, roasted tomatillo avocado guacamole!

All the purist out there may be shaking their heads because this guacamole is nearly half tomatillo and contains some other more non traditional ingredients; but for me, that's what attracted me to this recipe!

I found the recipe over at What's Gaby Cooking and just so happened to have perfectly ripe avocados from Costco just asking to be whipped into something delicious.
Roasted Tomatillo Guacamole
Only slightly adapted from What's Gaby Cooking

2 avocados, seeds and skin removed
zest and juice of 1 lime
2 small clove garlic
1 scant teaspoon kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp honey
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup white onion, diced
6 medium Tomatillos, roasted (about 12 to 14 ounces)
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Remove the husks from the tomatillos. Rinse under warm water well and wipe clean. Cut the tomatillos in half and place into a baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 15-20 minutes until they are tender. Remove and set aside to cool.
  3. Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse for briefly so some chunks remain. 
The original recipe called for the guacamole to be turned into more of a puree in the food processor, but I've been raised on chunky guacamole. Texture is key! I don't want a homogenous mixture, I want little pops of flavor. Keeping it a bit on the chunky side (by only pulsing briefly) allows that.

I was excited to make some more of my microwaved tortilla chips to go along with the guacamole but I couldn't keep them coming out fast enough! This dip goes lightning fast.
My dad proclaimed that this was the best guacamole he has ever had. This is coming from a Texan that has had a lot of guacamoles in his lifetime! My mom said that it was "one of the best" but didn't want to commit to saying it was "the best". Psh. Scaredy cat.

The best thing about this guac? It never turns brown! I think it might be because of the large quantity of lime juice.
And since those Costco bags of avocados come in such humongous quantities, I actually made this guac a second time only days later because it was that good. It has tremendous amount of flavor! The zest of the lime really adds a good zing and the honey is oh-so faint but adds to the overall deliciousness.

This would be great for parties because 1) it doesn't brown, 2)it gets better with age so you could just let it chill out in the fridge for a bit, and 3) people would go CRAZY over it!
Oh and another plus would be that since it's bulked up by yummy roasted tomatillos, you get more guacamole for less money (since avocados = $$$).
The only downside I can think of is that you'd have to make twice the amount because it's going to go twice as fast!

You think I'm joking? I'm not.
Seriously. Just make this. Please.
Oh, but it's not my fault if you get addicted. Or is it? Oh well.

My next green thing is a fabulous homemade walnut pesto.
I've never made a homemade pesto, and I certainly didn't know how easy it was!
The real reason that I wanted to make this was actually because I have become obsessed with adding walnuts to everything I make ever since I acquired a bag of them from Costco.
But, since I had already made enough desserts, quick breads, and yeast breads galore I wanted to go a more savory route.

This lead me to try finding sauces that used walnuts to add creaminess (usually found in sauces that are "vegan alternatives"). And though I saw a few using almonds, I could find none for walnuts.

I eventually came across this recipe over at Mind Over Batter. I liked that this pesto used walnuts instead of the more traditional pine nuts (which are much more expensive, anyway) and that it used a little less oil than other pesto recipes I saw.

The only thing I did differently was use a little less walnuts, but other than that I stayed true to the recipe.

Spinach Walnut Pesto
From Mind Over Batter
1 cup packed basil leaves
1 cup packed spinach leaves
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (I used about 1/2 cup walnut halves unchopped and toasted)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 – 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste (I ended up using 1/2 teaspoon)
Place basil, spinach, walnuts, garlic cloves, lemon zest and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the basil and spinach has broken down a bit. With your food processor still running, slowly pour in the olive oil. Add parmesan cheese and process for about 7-10 more seconds. Stop the food processor and add salt to taste.

 It's really such beautiful and simple ingredients...
 Blended up and emulsified and BAM; I got pesto!
Who doesn't love pesto?!
I ended up stirring most of it into some whole wheat linguini pasta with chicken that I marinated in a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette.
Yum!! So flavorful and fresh. And speaking of sun dried tomato, adding a couple to this pasta dish would most definitely not hurt. It's an awesome match!
I served it with a spinach salad w/ Caesar dressing and steamed green beans.
So much green! 
Now that I've made homemade pesto, I don't think I'll ever go back to store bought ever again! I'll definitely be using this recipe, too. Walnuts are so much more accessible for me, and I love the little citrus zing from the lemon juice/zest. 
Next time I think I'll nix the spinach and go 100% basil. Basil has just so much more flavor; there's no point diluting it by using spinach! Also, I may experiment in substituting most of the oil for water or broth so to lower the overall fat content. Yes, I know its healthy fat, but with all the other ingredients, pesto can get pretty high up there in fat and I'd rather be able to use more of it!

What's your favorite homemade sauce?
I would love to get some more ideas!

No comments:

Post a Comment