Saturday, June 7, 2008

Walnut Pesto & Walnut-Artichoke Dip

So the inevitable happened, and we got a little tired of hummus. Pesto seemed like a nice change, especially as I'd come home from the farmer's market with big bunches of cilantro and basil. The goal was to use lots of nuts (instead of parmesan, which I'm not fond of in pesto) and some seeds for extra protein. Hubby eats something like this or hummus on a slab of toasted whole grain bread for lunch, so it had to be "meaty" and filling. With that in mind, I threw together in the Cuisinart:

1 C loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 C loosely packed fresh cilantro (leaves and small stems)
1 C walnut pieces
1/4 C "tamari" pumpkin seeds*
1/4 C sunflower seeds
1 smallish carrot (peeled and chopped)
2 T fresh orange juice
1 T lemon juice
1/4 C olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic
dash of salt

* roasted, hulled pumpkin seeds seasoned with tamari (soy sauce), available at your local health food store, or just substitute something silimar with or without tamari seasoning

Whizzed it all up until a nice thick spread consistency. This was very tasty. Just the thing for hubbie's lunch, and delish on a fresh-from-the-oven cracker. I was surprised that the carrot flavor came through, too, with just a hint of sweetness. Admittedly, adding carrots to a basically green goop (all those herbs) does result in a less-than-lovely brownish color, but the flavor will win you over even though it becomes even browner after a day in the fridge. If that bothers you, I'd say leave the carrot out.

Only problem with this was, it made too much to fit in the 1.2 C fridge container I scooped it into, which resulted in...

There I was with about a third of the walnut pesto batch still in the food processor, when inspiration struck. I remembered I had a jar of marinated artichoke hearts lying around, so I put some of them in and whizzed it all up.

Oh yum... now that was an excellent idea! But the artichoke flavor was a little lost, it needed more, so I put the rest of the jar in, with a TB or so of the liquid.* I tasted a little and thought, "hmm, does it need another little something?" I wasn't sure, so I tasted again. I still wasn't sure, so I tasted again. And again. Then I realized I'd eaten about two servings worth straight from the mixer bowl, and it was very, very good. Even better, as I soon discovered, with the lavash crackers from my previous post. I may have to bypass the pesto stage next time and just make a huge batch of this. Even hubbie, who claims not to like artichoke hearts, pigged out on it.

* That artichoke marinade is GOLD, BTW: do not waste it! I add mine to whatever salad dressing is in the fridge, or use it to make a fresh batch. What? You buy salad dressing? Whatever for? It's so quick and easy (not to mention cheaper!) to make your own, and the varieties are endless. I'll address salad dressing another time, but seriously: oil, vinegar, a little seasonings, herbs if you got 'em, whizz it up and you're done... whaddareya waiting for?

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