Mint family, or Lamiaceae, is a large family of aromatic herbs. This family includes many widely used herbs, such as mint, lavender, rosemary, sage, savory, oregano, thyme, marjoram and basil. It makes me think that if I were a herb I would be proud (as much as a herb can be proud) to be a part of this delicious family!
Basil is possibly originated in India and is best known for its use in Italian cuisine as it is the main ingredient in pesto sauce. There are many varieties of basil: lemon basil, cinnamon basil, sweet basil, purple basil, thai basil and much more. Sweet basil is widely available and is the one mostly used for making pesto. Origin of the Genoese word pestâ (or “pestare” in Italian language) means to crush, which refers to its method of preparation, by using marble mortal and wooden pestle.
Pesto, by far, is my favorite sauce, I am used to making it long before I started to follow the autoimmune paleo diet. Basil has a rich antioxidant content, which is helpful in fighting inflammation; it also contains many vitamins and minerals, namely vitamin E, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, phosphorus and manganese. Given deliciousness of pesto and nutritional value of basil I didn’t like the idea of giving up pesto sauce once on the AIP, so I started to think of possibilities to prepare the autoimmune-compliant one. In addition to basil leaves, traditional pesto is prepared with pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and cheese. Cheese didn’t bother me much as I used to prepare my pesto dairy-free before. In fact, I was in the habit of making a healthier version of pesto by adding a lot of lemon juice (in the past I was careful enough to include alkaline-promoting foods and lemon is one of those foods). Since nuts were not allowed on the elimination part of the autoimmune protocol I was thinking of other possibilities and coconut butter seemed pretty promising…et voilà: basil coconut pesto was created!
- 2 cups basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons coconut butter*
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- Combine the basil leaves, coconut butter, lemon juice, garlic, and salt in a food processor and pulse several times. Scrape down the sides of the food processor with a spatula. Pulse again to incorporate everything.
- While the food processor is running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady, thin stream. This is the technique used to make mayonnaise: it keeps the olive oil from separating, which helps the emulsifying process.
- Serve right away or store in the fridge to use later.