Red Kale Beets and Sweet Cilantro Vinaigrette

Red Kale Beets and Sweet Cilantro Vinaigrette

Your diet has a large impact on nitric oxide (N-O) production. Beets, spinach, kale and any leafy greens are rich in nitrates. As you chew these foods the good bacteria in your saliva converts the nitrates into nitrites. Once in the stomach, the digestion continues acting on the nitrites and converts them to nitric oxide, among other compounds.

The antioxidants contained in these vegetables react with the nitrogen dioxide produced by the digestion process, scavenging the oxygen molecule, to reduce it to still more nitric oxide. Once completely digested, the N-O is then absorbed through the intestinal tract and pasted into the bloodstream.

Why should all of this be of interest to you? Because nitric oxide circulates through your body helping to keep it alive.  Your heart uses it to keep pumping vital nutrients and oxygen throughout your body.

N-O is also produced in the lining of our arteries, but as we age the body does not produce as much nitric oxide. Studies show as you complete your 4th decade of life, your body is only making about half, if not less then half of what it made when you were 20.

That is why it is important to eat a variety of nitric oxide containing plants, and our featured recipe fits the bill.

Our featured recipe is: Red Kale Beets and Sweet Cilantro Vinaigrette, and here is what you will need.

Sweet Cilantro Lime VinaigretteWe’ll start with the vinaigrette. 

1 cup packed cilantro

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup lime juice ( 1 small lime)

1/4 cup orange juice

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt (or sea salt)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Pinch of minced garlic or 1/8 teaspoon of powered garlic

2 – 3 teaspoons of coconut sugar (optional)

Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor, and blend or process until smooth.

Place into a jar with a tighten lid, and store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

For the salad you will need:

2 cups red kale, about 3 steams

1/3 cup beets, steam, and diced ( 1 small beet or 3 baby beets)

2 -3 tablespoons pine nuts

3 – 4 tablespoons goat cheese

Remove leaf parts of kale from steams and wash under fresh cool water. Next cut kale into smaller bite sizes portions with a pare of kitchen shears and arrange on a dinner plate.

You have the option to use canned beets (preferably organic grown), dicing the sliced beets into 1/2 inch squares. If you chose to use fresh beets, slice the beets, about 1 inch slices, and place into a steamer, until slightly soft. Remove, and cool a bit, and dice into 1/2 inch squares, making a 3rd of a cup. Arrange the beets over the kale.

Next add the pine nuts and goat cheese. Drizzle with Sweet Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette, and enjoy with slices of olive bread (we used an olive bread made with olive oil and black olives, no canola oil) or your favorite bread .

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The History of Pesto Sauce

Pesto Sauce

Pesto is a sauce originating in Genoa in the Liguria region of northern Italy, and from the time the Italians invented pesto it has always been prepared with crushed garlic, basil, and European pine nuts blended with olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and including Fiore Sardo, a cheese made from sheep’s milk.

It is possible the mineral-rich seaside soil and temperate climate of Liguria is why pesto sauce has  become a beloved sauce in northeren Italy, as they have the perfect conditions for growing basil.

The Meaning of Pesto

Different Materials to make Mortars and Pestles

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The Italian word for pesto: pestare, means to pound, or to crush. Pesto was originally prepared with a marble mortar and wooden pestle.

The ingredients were pounded or crushed with a circular motion of the pestle in the mortar.

The book “Pesto Genovese: an Ageless Benchmark of Great Italian Cuisine,” writes that the ancient Romans ate a paste called moretum, prepared by crushing cheese, garlic and herbs together.

Because the term pesto is a generic word for anything that is made by pounding or crushing, that leaves the original pesto sauce recipe open to flexible and differing ways to prepare the sauce.

Flexible Ways to Prepare Pesto Sauce

In accent Provence, France the pesto was prepared without using pine nuts, as no pine trees grow there to provide the nuts. Sometimes almonds are used instead of pine nuts, and mint leaves are mixed in with the basil leaves. Some have even used spinach or cilantro in place of basil.

grated Asiago cheese

Grated Asiago Cheese

The interchangeable use of the nuts and greens just depends on your taste. In our kitchen at Splendid Recipes and More, we have used pecans in place of pine nuts, and almost always use Asiago cheese in place of the traditional Parmesan cheese.

Here’s the recipe for the traditional pesto sauce, though as we said, at Splendid Recipes and More, we use Asiago cheese. Here is what you will need.

Pesto Sauce - over head shot2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, no stems

¼ cup pine nuts

2 large garlic cloves

½ cup grated Romano/Parmesan or Asiago cheese

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Place all the ingredients in a food processor, except oil, and pulse. Start to add oil slowly, pulsing until ingredients form a smooth paste.

Note: If you do not use right away, or there are left overs, store in a jar with a layer of olive oil on top to prevent discoloration, and top jar with a tight lid and store in the refrigerator. Will store for 3 to 5 days.

Pesto is no doubt one of the worlds most loved sauces, next to the mayonnaise and the Mexican traditional salsa.

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