Regular pesto usually contains a high amount of fat. Most are made with butter and lots and lots of cheese. So there are a couple of reasonable and tasty substitutions that can be made in order to reduce the calories. Instead of butter – use extra virgin olive oil and instead of cheese – use firm tofu….I know this doesn’t sound as exciting as a buttery pesto but the results are amazing. I love to use tofu as a substitute for cheese because it’s also a good source of protein, has omega-3s and it’s lower in fat content. Additionally, when used as cheese it looks virtually the same – at least in the creamy sauces or in sandwiches. I use it for lasagnas and multiple other italian dishes. Bottom line tofu has no flavor so it will absorb and adjust to your recipe. That’s were the fresh basil comes in…I love the smell of fresh basil, I think it can transform any boring weeknight meal. Additionally I love to add spinach into my pesto. Some pesto recipes demand lots of fresh basil, and it can get expensive so I use spinach. Furthermore, spinach adds more nutritional value to the recipe. This is why this pesto is perfect! Im telling you…you won’t miss the other fatty ingredients. But if you’re still craving some fresh parmesan cheese, sprinkle a little on top of your pesto pasta dish. This way you can reduce the amount of calories and fat from your meal without compromising taste.
4 tbsp pine nuts (if you want save some to sprinkle on top of the pasta)
2 to 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (depends on your taste, I use 4!)
1 cup packed basil leaves
1 cup of packed baby spinach
7 oz firm tofu or half of a package
1/4 tsp sea salt (add more if needed)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup of olive oil (try 1/2 first but if it’s too thick for your liking add more olive oil
Want to avoid adding olive oil altogether? Choose silken tofu which provides a naturally creamy texture.
Finely chop the garlic cloves by hand. Pulse the pine nuts, the tofu, garlic, oil & the seasoning in a food processor until creamy smooth. Next add the basil & spinach leaves in batches, pulsing after each addition.
Refrigerate after use.
Spread onto sandwiches or wraps. Add it to whole wheat pasta. Add it to canapés or appetizers. Go ahead..enjoy!