What do you do with lots of basil? Living in Alaska, that’s not usually a problem, since it’s too cold for bumper crops of it in our gardens. Fresh basil is a treat and more often that not, half the package is starting to turn brown by the time you get it home. To compensate, I usually buy double or triple the amount the recipe calls for. When I got home from the store this time, it was a surprise to see that both of the large containers were full of blemish-free leaves. It was Saturday, so there was time to experiment with another pesto. I finished the first one, then rushed downstairs and flipped through a couple of my favorite Italian cookbooks, where I found this unusual variation.
The original recipe calls for fresh green beans, but they’re hard to find at this time of the year so I substituted frozen ones. While garden fresh beans would probably be even better, the frozen beans were delicious. The balsamic vinegar gives them a hint of sweet and sour that contrasts perfectly with the basil and Parmesan. Serve these green beans hot or at room temperature. For best results, don’t refrigerate the finished dish, as cold changes the flavors. For a variation, the original recipe suggests using the pesto as a topping for pasta, steamed or roasted sweet peppers, broccoli or potatoes.
Parmesan is an aged cheese with almost no lactose in it. According to “Food Intolerance Management Plan”, by Sue Shepherd, most people with lactose intolerance can handle about 4 grams of lactose per serving of food without experiencing problems (page 29). As always, only eat what your body can tolerate, and only you know what that is.
Green Beans with Balsamic Pesto
1/4 cup (60 ml) garlic infused olive oil
1 1/3 cups (320 ml or 46 grams) tightly packed fresh basil
3/4 cup (180 ml or 85 grams) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) fresh or frozen whole green beans
1/4 cup (60 ml) balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ((1.25 ml) brown sugar
Combine the olive oil, basil and cheese in a food processor and blend until the basil is finely chopped. Season with salt and pepper.
If you’re using fresh beans, trim the ends and leave them whole. If you’re using frozen beans, thaw them in hot water. Steam the beans for 6 minutes or until tender crisp. Frozen beans are not as crisp as fresh ones. Don’t skip steaming them, as they need to be piping hot in order for the pesto to flavor them properly.
Put the beans in the serving dish and add the pesto, along with the vinegar and sugar, and toss the beans to coat them with the dressing. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot or at room temperature.