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Basil Pesto Bread and Tomato Salad

Put everything for the pesto in a food processor or blender and turn it into a paste. Skip toasting the nuts if you want. The salad ratios are guidelines. Chop the salad ingredients and dress it with the pesto.
Prep Time10 mins
Course: Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Italian
Author: burntporkchops.com

Ingredients

For the Pesto

  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup toasted nuts I used some whole pecan halves and walnut halves. Toasting yields a richer flavor. It is an optional step.
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan
  • 2 - 3 cloves garlic ~ 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 whole lemon, juiced optional
  • 2 tsp lemon zest optional
  • 1/2 T sugar optional
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

For the Salad

  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups cubed bread
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil for garnish

Instructions

For the Pesto

  • Toast the nuts in a dry skillet 2 - 3 minutes until you can smell them. Let cool while you prepare the other ingredients.
  • Put everything for the pesto in your food processor or blender and blast into a paste. 
  • Let sit at least 30 minutes before using.

For the Bread and Tomato Salad

  • Chop and combine the tomatoes, bread, and fresh mozzarella. Dress with pesto. Add salt and pepper, garnish with fresh basil leaves cut into strips. Serve immediately. 

Notes

The spinach in this recipe is added as a filler to increase the nutritional value and extend how much pesto you get. Theoretically, it will also reduce the calories per "unit dose." If you want to thin the pesto even more (which you can because it is so flavorful) add some water and blast. You will change the texture and turn it into a thinner sauce - and there is nothing wrong with that, especially if you are going to use it on spaghetti or zucchini noodles. Traditional pesto is made with pine nuts, but they are expensive, and sometimes have a bitter finish. I stopped using pine nuts because I could never figure out why or when they were going to taste bitter. Throw in whatever extra fresh veggies you have on hand - red onion or fresh mushrooms would be nice additions. A teaspoon or two of capers would add a nice zing.