Chronic Illness Warrior’s Guide To Easy Homemade Pesto

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Ingredients:

1 cup of fresh basil leaves (salt immediately to prevent blackening)

2 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons of pine nuts

3 tablespoons of Romano shredded cheese

3 tablespoons of Parmesan shredded cheese

1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients to a pesto sitting on a tile kitchen counter
Courtesy of Kristen Kehl

Cookware:

Food processor

Glass jars (for storage)

Instructions:

1. Place leaves in food processor. Salt first to prevent browning of leaves. Process briefly, then add garlic, pine nuts, and cheeses.

2. While machine is running, pour EVOO in slow stream and process until well incorporated. Watch for the consistency you like.

3. Pour into glass jars, I like the 8oz mason jars with metal lids. Top with 1 tablespoon of EVOO.

(Jars can be frozen for up to 6 months. To defrost, move to refrigerator for 24 hours or place jar in warm water for 30 minutes.)

Substitutions:

Replace the 6 tablespoons of cheeses with 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast to make the sauce dairy-free.

Pine nuts are the most common nut for pesto, but other popular options are cashews and almonds.

A bowl of pesto farfalle pasta topped with pine nuts and shredded cheese
Courtesy of Kristen Kehl

About This Recipe

My chronic health struggles started at a young age. I was first diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome at the age of 17, followed by a rare chronic kidney disease called Medullary Sponge Kidney. The older I get, the worse my kidneys behave, and the more my PCOS flares up. Daily I struggle with fatigue, abdominal and lower back pain, bloating, and brain fog. My body also produces several kidney stones throughout the year, which I have had to pass at home or, in severe situations, have surgery to remove them.

With my health issues now at the forefront of my life, my diet is extremely important to my quality of life. In order to keep my kidneys functioning, it’s important that I do most of my own cooking. As a mom who struggles with chronic health issues, easy dinner plans are a must.

Sweet basil has been a staple in my food and garden since I was a young girl for a very specific reason: our family’s homemade pesto recipe. My mother was the one to perfect this recipe, and I can honestly say anyone who tries it will never be satisfied with store-bought again. She developed the recipe decades ago, and every summer grows her own basil to make the famous pesto. Summer in our family isn’t just about longer days, swimming, and no school. Summer is pesto season.

Pesto is a sauce that can be used on a variety of foods, and you can easily change ingredients to accommodate dietary needs. For example, the original recipe calls for cheese, but my son has a dairy allergy. I was able to substitute nutritional yeast for the cheese and still get a delicious flavor. Another great thing about this sauce is that you can freeze it!

After trying several unsuccessful restrictive diets I discovered the Mediterranean Diet. My family pesto recipe fits seamlessly into this diet, as it pairs with almost every dish in the diet. We use it to top fish and chicken, toss it with couscous or pasta, and even use it as a spread on sandwiches.

I grew up enjoying pesto as a staple in our meal planning, and now my kids get to enjoy it and learn the recipe too. With my mom’s permission, I now share our family’s favorite pesto recipe.

A bowl of pasta topped with salmon, cheese, and pesto
Courtesy of Kristen Kehl
A bowl of pesto farfalle pasta topped with pine nuts and shredded cheese

Easy Homemade Pesto Recipe

As a mom who struggles with chronic health issues, easy pesto is a must.
Prep Time 2 mins
Cook Time 3 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6

Equipment

  • Food processor
  • Glass jars (for storage)

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbs pine nuts (can substitute with cashews or almonds)
  • 3 tbs Romano shredded cheese (can substitute with 1/2 tablespoon of nutritional yeast)
  • 3 tbs Parmesan shredded cheese (can substitute with additional 1/2 tablespoon of nutritional yeast)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions
 

  • Salt basil leaves first to prevent browning, then place in food processor.
  • Process basil leaves briefly, then add garlic, pine nuts, and cheeses.
  • While machine is running, pour extra virgin olive oil in slow stream and process until well incorporated. Watch for the consistency you like.
  • Pour into glass jars (I like the 8oz mason jars with metal lids). Top with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
Keyword chronic illness friendly, dairy free, easy, mediterranean, pesto, sauce

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kristen Kehl. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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