Episode 3 is here, folks, and in it, we’re hittin’ the sauce! Kind of. We’re actually reworking pesto and tomato-carrot sauce to make them taste just as good with a more beneficial nutritional profile. I don’t believe in making things healthier if they don’t taste as good — these taste just as good as their originals, and they’re better for you, too! Let’s hit our healthy pesto and tomato sauce!
Ask my girlfriend, I adore pesto! But with a full half cup of oil in a standard recipe, it’s not only pricey, but also chock full of calories. The swap here is simple — add tomatoes for volume and puree them, toss in some red wine vinegar for additional taste and then we drizzle the olive oil on just before using.
Nutrition out of the way, one of the most important considerations in making a sauce is the texture. Where traditional pesto gets its texture from the copious amounts of olive oil, this pesto gets the saucy texture from the tomatoes. Aside from just providing volume, the pectin the tomatoes thickens the basil/tomato mixture and preserves the saucy texture. The pectin molecules link up with themselves and maintain everything nice and saucy.
Common cream-based tomato sauce relies solely on the cream to create the right taste and creamy thickness. This one is thickened not with cream, but carrots and potatoes. The carrots add tons of sweetness and sugar, and the potatoes create the proper texture. Just a hair of cream is added in at the end to finish things off. It’s the starch that mainly thickens this one, though the pectin from the tomatoes obviously plays a role. Starch plus heat = thickener, since the starch molecules swell and absorb the water and coats other water molecules to create a gel.
- 8 oz. basil
- 24 ounce can of tomatoes, drained
- Olive oil as needed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound carrots
- 3 potatoes
- 1 32-ounce can of tomatoes, drained
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- Puree all ingredients together and consume! Easy as that.
- Roast carrots and potatoes at 425 until a thin-bladed knife penetrates and leaves easily (roughly 30 minutes for the carrots and 45 minutes for the potatoes. You can roast them at the same time on different racks.
- Puree all together with the tomatoes in a food processor or quality blender
- Put in a hot pan with 1 Tbsp olive oil and cook until the mixture loosens
- Add ½ cup cream and gently swirl together until everything is integrated.
- Serve immediately over pasta! You'll have enough sauce for over a pound, assuming the pasta isn't drowning in the stuff.
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