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Oil-Free (Almost) Pesto


To make a great pesto, you need plenty of good oil. Or do you? This version of pesto, in addition to the usual basil, garlic and Parmesan, is made with artichoke hearts, serrano chiles, olives, lemon juice and parsley. It's aromatic and flavorful but has almost no oil.

The recipe calls for one tablespoon of olive oil, which isn't a lot. But that can be omitted if you are looking for a nonfat dip--the liquid from the artichoke hearts is used to thin the sauce enough for dipping or tossing with pasta. When served with fresh vegetables, the pesto works as a dip and makes a terrific hot-weather appetizer.


1/2 (8 1/2-ounce) can quartered hearts of artichokes

1 cup basil leaves

1 cup Italian parsley leaves

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon lemon juice

4 cloves garlic

1 serrano chile, cut in half and seeded

1 tablespoon olive oil, optional

1/2 cup ripe olives

Fresh sliced vegetables, such as carrot sticks, celery sticks, jicama sticks, radish roses, sweet red or green pepper strips, broccoli florets or cauliflower florets, optional

Drain artichokes and reserve liquid. Set aside.

Place basil, parsley, cheese, lemon juice, garlic, chile and olive oil in food processor or blender and puree. Add reserved artichokes and olives and process until mixture is blended but slightly chunky. Stir in enough reserved liquid from artichokes to make pesto thin enough for dipping, about 2 to 3 tablespoons.

Serve with fresh sliced vegetables. Makes 1 1/4 cups pesto.

Each tablespoon, without olive oil, contains about:

23 calories; 69 mg sodium; 1 mg cholesterol; 1 grams fat; 3 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0.36 grams fiber.

Each tablespoon, with olive oil, contains about:

29 calories; 69 mg sodium; 1 mg cholesterol; 2 grams fat; 3 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0.36 grams fiber.

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