Presto! It’s Pesto To the Rescue

Making pesto

Age Gracefully by Grace O: Presto—it’s pesto! The versatility of pesto can help us all do our very besto when it comes to adding great flavor and big benefits to dishes. Use your imagination and check out the pesto chart along with two of my out-of-the-box pestos that deliver great taste along with powerful nutrients. You can serve these and any favorite pesto over vegetables; pasta; flatbread … whatever you choose!

Bowl of Pasta with Pesto Sauce and Grated Cheese

Nettle Pesto

At the height of allergy season, incorporating nettles into your meals can be a soothing practice offering relief. With research supporting the use of nettles for seasonal allergies and hay fever, this plant contains anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties (Learn more about the benefits of nettles in our story on them.)It is also rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Nettles are commonly cooked into a tea, but they also make a flavorful sauce. Never eat or touch fresh nettles; heat neutralizes the volatile compound that stings so some type of processing is key before you consume them. If you don’t have access to fresh nettles, dried nettles can be ordered online or you might find them at a Farmer’s Market.

Enjoy this fresh nettle pesto today on whole wheat or bean pasta or your favorite vegetable noodles.

Yields 1 cup

1/2 pound fresh nettles (or 8 oz. dried)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup pine nuts (you can substitute walnuts if desired)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 medium lemon, juiced with seeds removed
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste (if desired)

Bring a large pot of water to a simmer. Add the nettles directly from their bag and cook, stirring continuously, for 2 minutes to denature their sting. Be careful not to touch dry nettles; use gloves or tongs if needed. Drain and set aside. When the nettles are cool, wrap them in a clean dishtowel and pat out as much moisture as possible. In the bowl of a food processor, blend the garlic, pine nuts, salt, and pepper to a paste. Add the nettles, one handful at a time, and the lemon juice and process until finely chopped. With the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil and process until smooth. Add the cheese and gently blend into the mixture with a spoon. Season with additional Parmesan and crushed red pepper flakes if desired.


Kale-Cashew Pesto

Cashews are a sweet nut that helps to balance the sharpness of kale. I use Tuscan kale, which is mild and tender. It’s also called lacinato kale, black kale, or cavolo nero. This pesto is wonderful tossed with pasta, quinoa, roasted potatoes, or even spread on sandwiches.

This recipe is from my latest book, The Age Beautifully Cookbook, and it’s loaded with antioxidants (AO), which prevent and repair oxidative damage to cells caused by free radicals. Kale is practically a wonder drug, with all its antioxidant power from indoles (sulfur compounds), carotenoids, quiercetin, vitamin C, and a bonus helping of bone-building calcium. Olive oil is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and flavonoids. Basil contains lycopene, which appears to be particularly beneficial for prostate health.

Yield: I cup


1 cup tightly packed whole Tuscan kale leaves, without stems
2 tsp. salt in a large bowl with water for rinsing
1 cup tightly packed whole basil leaves
½ cup unsalted roasted cashews
5 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. crushed garlic
¼ tsp. sea salt
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Rinse the kale in salted water. Drain and dry with paper towels.
  2. Place the kale and remaining ingredients except the cheese and 1 Tbs. of olive oil into a food processor bowl, Blend for 10 seconds or until the mixture is granular but not smooth.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl; add the cheese and the reserved Tbs. of olive oil. Blend for another 6-10 seconds until it becomes an emerald-colored paste.


SOURCE: This chart is posted by permission Delicious Living (and its parent company New Hope Network), a trusted voice in the natural living community for 30 years.

About Grace O

GRACE O is the creator of FoodTrients®, a unique program for optimizing wellness and longevity. She is the author of two award-winning cookbooks – The Age Gracefully Cookbook and The Age Beautifully Cookbook, which recently won the National award for Innovation from the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. She is a fusion chef with a mission to deliver delicious recipes built on a foundation of anti-aging science and her 20 years in the healthcare industry. Visit to learn more. Email us at
What Do FoodTrients Do?
Ai Anti- inflammatories

Reduce inflammatory process in cells, tissues, and blood vessels, helping to slow aging and reduce risk of long-term disease.

Ao Anti- oxidant

Prevents and repairs oxidative damage to cells caused by free radicals.

IB Immunity Boosters

Support the body’s resistance to infection and strengthen immune vigilance and response.

MB Mind

Improves mood, memory, and focus.

F Disease Prevention

Reduces risk factors for common degenerative and age-related diseases.