Summer, hot days and sun are coming, now life is spent more outdoors and there is also a desire to eat something fresh and quick. Like pesto, the ideal seasoning for bruschetta, pasta but also rice. The name pesto derives from the method with which this sauce was originally prepared, that is, by crushing, in Italian pestare, fresh basil leaves, garlic and other ingredients in a marble mortar. Today the mortar is no longer used and the pesto is prepared with the mixer, which has considerably reduced the preparation time, but the fact of using raw ingredients has remained, thus preserving all the properties of the sauce. Therefore, pesto is a concentrate of beneficial substances for health, it provides vitamins and mineral salts, which we often tend to lose by sweating, and also precious antioxidants to protect us from free radicals and damage caused by the sun's rays. And with pesto, then, you never get tired because it can be varied according to your imagination, adding or removing ingredients, creating new combinations, new flavors and also guaranteeing different health properties. Here are some ideas!
This pesto is a true concentrate of vitamins, including vitamin C, which strengthens the immune system, and mineral salts and is therefore perfect when you sweat a lot, such as in summer, or when you practice intense physical activity (Rice et al, Eur J Clin Nutr, 2004 - Aufiero, the nutritional and therapeutic role of foods). Blend 2 large tomatoes, 5 basil leaves, a sprig of parsley, a clove of garlic, a teaspoon of capers, an anchovy fillet, a tablespoon of pitted olives, the tip of a fresh chilli pepper in a blender. Pour the pesto into a bowl and add extra virgin olive oil to obtain a sauce of the right consistency.
Pass the sweet pepper over the flame of the stove, place it in an airtight container for food for 15-20 minutes, then remove the skin from the pepper avoiding using water that would remove those substances that increase its digestibility. Blend the pepper in a blender together with a clove of garlic, 2 tablespoons of almonds and a dozen basil leaves. Add two tablespoons of Parmesan, blend, then pour in extra virgin olive oil and mix. Pepper improves metabolism and insulin sensitivity, is diuretic and counteracts water retention (Sanati et al, Iran J Basic Med Sci, 2018).
Pesto with rocket and zucchini
Rocket pesto helps and supports the work of the thyroid gland and gives a boost to the metabolism. Therefore, it is useful in cases of overweight, obesity and metabolic syndrome (Aufiero, the nutritional and therapeutic role of food). Not only that, rocket also provides valuable antioxidants, including quercetin and kaempferol, with anti-inflammatory and immunostimulating action (Bell et al, Food Chem, 2019). This is how the rocket pesto is prepared. Wash 50 grams of rocket leaves and dry them. Put the rocket, the garlic clove, a handful of pine nuts, 5 walnuts and a sliced tomato in the mixer. Blend, then add two tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, blend again. Remove from the mixer and pour into a bowl, then add the extra virgin olive oil, stirring, until the desired consistency. If you want to serve this rocket pesto in the evening, it may be useful to replace the tomato with two zucchinis. The preparation is the same, but instead of the tomato add two medium zucchinis, washed and cut into pieces. In fact, zucchini has a sedative action thanks to its potassium content, which is added to that of pine nuts (Aufiero, the nutritional and therapeutic role of foods).
Genoese pesto, the classic
Here is the classic Genoese pesto, the original, prepared with basil and garlic. This preparation is perfect in case of insomnia, hyperthyroidism and states of nervousness and anxiety. Not only that, raw garlic protects the heart, is antitumor, antidiabetic and antimicrobial, while basil is antioxidant, antifungal and counteracts inflammation (Bayan et al, Avicenna J Phytomed., 2014 - Joshi et al, Anc Sci Life., 2014). Basil has a neurosedative action that is increased thanks to the synergy with calcium and magnesium contained in pine nuts (Aufiero, the nutritional and therapeutic role of foods). Blend 40 basil leaves with a clove of garlic, a few grains of coarse salt and two tablespoons of pine nuts. Add 2 tablespoons of Parmesan and blend for a few more seconds. Pour into a bowl, add extra virgin olive oil as needed to obtain a fluid sauce.
Dry or fresh, even fruit can be an excellent ingredient for summer pesto. A few examples? The orange pesto ... Peel 4 oranges, leaving some peel aside. Blend the oranges, 200 grams of almonds, 3 tablespoons of capers and a few basil leaves. Transfer to a bowl, add a little extra virgin olive oil and mix. Use immediately to season wholemeal spaghetti decorating with some peel left aside. Oranges are a precious source of antioxidants such as hesperidin and naringenin, carotenoids and vitamin C, useful in countering the aging processes, cellular degeneration and heart disease (Franke et al, J Agric Food Chem, 2005). Then, in August, when it's season, you can try fig pesto. Clean 7-8 figs and peel them, put them in the mixer together with a dozen basil leaves, two tablespoons of cashews or almonds, blend. Add 2 tablespoons of Parmesan and 2 tablespoons of pecorino cheese and blend again. Pour into a bowl, add extra virgin olive oil to reach the desired consistency and use to season pasta or wholemeal bread bruschetta. Figs contain substances with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor action, support, together with extra virgin olive oil, the immune system (Bahadori et al, Iran J Pharm Res, 2016).