Pesto is so delicious and easy to make; it just takes seconds to make in a blender or food processor. The only downside is that a traditional pesto uses lots of olive oil, which is delicious and a healthy fat, but high in calories if you are trying to eat lighter. My skinny pesto sauce is lightened up by a secret ingredient which stretches the oil without compromising flavor or texture.
How do you make pesto sauce lightened up?
Traditional pesto involves a lot of oil, let’s face it… that’s what makes it delicious after all. And even though olive oil is a good, healthy fat, when are on a low-fat or low-calorie lifestyle, the calories can really add up.
So yes, even though olive oil is good for you, it still has lots of fat and calories in it; and when you make a sauce like pesto which uses cups and cups of oil, it can really add up quickly.
Making a lightened-up pesto sauce was a tricky balancing act of not stripping away pesto’s identity while also changing it to be healthier. The balance I found to be best was still using a good amount of olive oil, but stretching the oil with another ingredient. That secret ingredient is… ::drumroll:: lemon juice!
I find that the lemon juice flavors the pesto really well, helps stretch the liquid without adding more oil, and also adds an element of freshness to the sauce.
What you’ll need to make skinny pesto sauce
Here’s a list of ingredients for this recipe:
- lots and lots of basil
- Pecorino Romano cheese
- olive oil
- lemon juice
- kosher salt
You will also need a food processor or a blender to make this recipe. I used my Cuisinart Food Processor; here is a similar one.
How to make skinny pesto sauce
This might be the easiest recipe ever, because all you do is throw everything into the food processor and give it a whirl.
For this recipe, I grated my own Pecorino Romano cheese by hand, just because I thought the flavor would be stronger and a bit better. I do recommend doing this if you can. This was really the only “prep” required for this recipe.
The other thing I did was before hand was was and drying my basil leaves, which I did inside my salad spinner to ensure they were super dry before using them.
For this recipe, you need 2 cups of packed basil; so that’s the volume you need once the basil has been washed, dried, and packed into a measuring cup.
Once the basil is ready, add that to the food processor, along with the other ingredients, and just give it a whirl. That’s it, I am not kidding! If you feel your pesto is too thick, you can add a touch more lemon juice. Otherwise, you’re done.
How to serve and store the pesto
You can serve the pesto over spaghetti. One serving of the pesto (2 tablespoons) is an appropriate amount for one serving of pasta (2 oz uncooked, or approximately 1 cup of cooked pasta). To serve the pesto over pasta, prepare 12 oz of pasta for the entire pesto recipe; this will make six servings.
You can also use the pesto as a spread on sandwiches, or eat it with eggs, or potatoes, or really anything!
It is also the star of the show for my Pesto Chicken Salad recipe, which requires one full recipe of the pesto.
You can store this pesto in a mason jar in the fridge, and it will stay fresh for about a week or so.
Skinny Pesto Sauce
- blender or food processor
- 2 cups basil, fresh, packed
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ cup Pecorino Romano, grated
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- Wash and dry the fresh basil.
- Grate the cheese.
- Add all ingredients to the blender or food processor and pulse until blended thoroughly, so that all of the basil leaves are broken down.
- 3 points for 2 tbsp (all plans)