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Pesto was literally my life before I started eating clean – chicken pesto pasta with cheese was a big part of my second-year uni diet. I loved trying all the different types – red pepper, coriander, aubergine, class basil! I LOVE pesto. Then someone told me that it was really high in fat, and I started getting really conscious about it, and I would feel guilty every time I ate it, which was like, four times a day! What I didn’t know at the time was the difference between good fats and bad fats. Olive oil and nuts are good fats – my body needs them and craves them! By making my own pesto, I can monitor how much of the ‘other stuff’ is put in. Like salt (and sugar in some cases!!)

imageI’ve tried making my own pesto before – when I went vegan for charity, it used soft-silken tofu and pine nuts. But, because I’m quite cautious about not messing with my hormones, I try and avoid soya as much as possible, and only have it every now and then.

I’ve looked at loads of different pesto recipes over the last few months, and all of them suggested pine nuts, but there were a couple that I had come across that recommended walnuts. I had about 500g of walnuts left over from a failed paleo carrot cake (let’s not talk about it) that I had made the week previous. So, I wanted to get rid of these nuts!

I had also just bought some rocket from the organics place I live next to – my intention was to use it in salads for work, for the week, but, I’m not the biggest fan of rocket-heavy salads….. so, why not use it for pesto 🙂

The majority of the recipes that I had looked at recommended roasting the garlic in their peels, beforehand, in some oil, rather than just blitzing them raw. The reason being that the pesto becomes overpoweringly garlicky when its raw. I’m not going to lie, I may have eaten one of the smaller roasted garlic cloves after I took it out of the pan. I could honestly cook a meal of whole roasted garlic cloves… don’t know how the boys would feel about kissing me after that! Anyways, because this is my first time documenting my pesto-making, I don’t have anything to compare it to, whether raw or roasted is better, so we shall see!

I also roasted the walnuts because I didn’t want them to feel left out! I thought roasted walnuts would taste nicer than raw ones!

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Everything then went into the food processor and hey pesto! (See what I did there? #punintended) I used about 2 cups of rocket with about 1/2 cup of olive oil. It yielded quite a bit, maybe 250g, maybe more? I plan on using this pesto as a marinade for some chicken thighs (obvs), but I also want to try making pesto paleo meatballs, which is apparently a thing!! Cannot wait to try them out.

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Ingredients
– 2 cups washed rocket (arugula)
– 1/2 cup walnuts
– 1/2 cup olive oil
– 4-6 garlic cloves
– salt to taste

Method
1. Heat some olive oil in a pan on medium high heat.
2. Add garlic in their peels and cook for about 5-8 mins, tossing occasionally, until brown.
3. Remove garlic from pan, toss in food processor.
4. Using the same pan, cook the walnuts in the same manner until they smell all roasty and toasty.
5. Remove walnuts from the pan and toss in the food processor.
6. Toss the rocket and olive oil in the food processor. BLITZ.
7. Add as much or little salt as you like. BLITZ. Taste.

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