The Raw Cooked Vegan

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Pesto Power Salad

Guess who LOVED this power salad? My meat-eater husband. That's right, he did. Now, this isn't just any salad. It's packed with super healthy apples, peppers, grape tomatoes, olives, dried cranberries, walnuts and just a little bowtie pasta. The perfect addition to this dish is the home-made pesto I made from my own basil plants. This is the best pesto ever! My husband literally spooned it out of the jar and ate it. Needless to say, it didn't last long, even though I made a whole cup.

The main thing about making your own pesto is growing your own basil. If you try to buy the amount of basil you will need from the grocery store (those little plastic jobs), it will cost you way too much. I suggest you give growing it a try. It's not that hard. I bought mine when they were mini plants and transferred them to a bigger pot. Just keep it watered with well drained soil and in full sun. Cut off the top flowering blooms to force it wider.

Pesto Power Salad
1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 crisp apple like Gala or Pink Lady
8-10 grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
3-4 baby bell peppers, chopped
1/2 cup cooked bowtie pasta
1/2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1/2 TBS red balsamic vinegar

Power Pesto
4 cups of lightly packed basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 and 1/2 tsp white balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp Kosher salt

To make pesto, toast pine nuts in a small skillet over medium heat until slightly toasted and starting to brown, watching constantly to avoid burning. Remove from heat and let cool.
In a power blender with lid, add basil leaves, olive oil, toasted pine nuts, salt and vinegar. Blend on high until smooth. Transfer to jar with lid.

In large bowl with lid, Combine romaine lettuce, apples, tomatoes, walnuts, dried cranberries, olives, peppers and bowtie pasta. Add 1/2 TBS olive oil and 1/2 TBS red balsamic. Add 2 TBS pesto to salad. Attach lid and shake until salad is thoroughly coated. Serve immediately.

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