I was so excited to see basil back on the shelf at the supermarket this year! Because of the unusual weather patterns we didn’t have it as early as usual. But sure enough, it returned and therefore, so does pesto! Yum!

Herbs are full of photonutrients, and often way higher than that in most other vegetables. So in other words, a little goes a long way in health benefits. Basil is no different. It has health benefits that include our mental health, such as its effect on anxiety and stress, as well as mental burnout and exhaustion [1]. So not bad for a tasty herb. It’s benefits don’t stop there, although they are not just specific to basil but many herbs and vegetables. With anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, anti-bacterial, neuro-protective properties (protection of the brain 🧠) herbs have a big role to play [2]. Too often in western culture we resort to salt to bring about the flavours we enjoy. By doing this, we reduce the huge benefits we could be receiving by using herbs instead. I am still learning a lot about this and have started to adjust my food intake to reduce salt and learning to use herbs for flavour.

Besides the great benefits of basil, this recipe has the added benefits of kale. Kale is not enjoyed by everyone, so adding it to pesto reduces this issue as the basil still shines through. Kale is a good source of insoluble fibre which is great for our gut, but it also stimulates the immune system [3] which is great when there are all these new viruses to fight off!

Ok, now for the recipe. Yes basil, yes kale. But we also have pine nuts and Parmesan cheese, which of course does have salt. Then finish it off with extra virgin olive oil. Pretty simple really.

If you want a bit of extra flavour, a clove of garlic will do the trick, which exhibits anti-bacterial activity [4], is good for heart health [5], reduces severity of the common cold [6] and antioxidant properties [7]. So not bad for a bit of flavour enhancing.

There are two main ways that I enjoy pesto. Firstly as a dip with wholegrain biscuits/crackers. Secondly, in pasta as pesto pasta. Do you have other ways you enjoy pesto? I would love to know of any cooking tips and tricks you use with pesto or basil.