Have you ever had an idea for a recipe that you just couldn't wait to try? That's how this recipe was. I can honestly say that if I had had the ingredients in my car along with a battery powered food processor, I might just have pulled onto the shoulder and created it on the spot.
The smell of freshly picked strawberries was tantalizing as the box rested next to me in the passenger seat. I could almost taste the heady combination of the fresh berries and basil and my mouth was watering!
Once we got home from our berry picking excursion, I realized I would not have time to try making this pesto that day. So, as I crawled into bed that night, I knew that tomorrow, everything else would have to take a backseat to this pesto creation.
This combination of toasted walnuts*, basil, freshly picked strawberries and lemon juice is unbelievably tasty and it's oil-free. Win-Win! I started with just the basil, toasted walnuts, salt and pepper and processed those well before adding the strawberries. Once the strawberries were mixed in, I tasted the pesto and found it still needed a bit of sweetness. I opted for honey (not considered plant-based) but you could certainly use pure maple syrup or agave, even stevia if you're into that. Or if it seems sweet enough for you, just skip it altogether! Another taste and I still wasn't satisfied. In my experience when something doesn't quite taste like I want it to, I know it needs either salt, acid or both. I decided a little of both would do the trick, so a dash of salt and 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice later this pesto creation was born.
Strawberry Basil Pesto (Prep time: 15 minutes Yield: about 1/3 cup)
1 package fresh basil (3/4 oounces), leaves torn
1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces* (Just place on a baking sheet and into a 300 degree oven for about 8 minutes, then cool slightly)
2 cloves roasted garlice (technique Here)
Salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1 Tbs. Honey or liquid sweetener to taste (optional)
2-3 tsp. fresh lemon juice (taste after the first 2 teaspoons to determine if you need more)
1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled
1. Place basil, walnuts, roasted garlic, salt, pepper, honey and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice into a food processor. Process until well mixed.
2. Add strawberries and process until the berries are well-combined. Taste and add more salt and/or lemon juice if needed.
3. Use immediately or freeze in icecube trays then store in a freezer bag in freezer up to one month.**
*Traditional pesto is prepared with toasted pine nuts, but to save money I often sub another nut. Here, walnuts work beautiful. I suspect almost any nut would work!
**This pesto is wonderful on my Spring Salad Wrap with Strawberry Basil Pesto or toss it with freshly cooked pasta and chill for a delicious pasta salad.