I am a huge fan of pesto, when made freshly and in season. We make it a lot in summer. Pick the basil from out herb garden, use olive oil our neighbors made themselves from their trees in Croatia, add some good Italian Parmesan cheese, some delicious pine nuts and a pinch of salt. That’s at simpel as it is and that’s why I love it! So few ingredients, so much flavor! But now it’s October! And unfortunately it’s getting colder and there is no way for the basil to grow in our garden. Still, we all love pesto and want to enjoy it and that’s why I decided to add a little twist to it!
This pesto recipe is not like the traditional Italian one but it is as delicious! It is made with fall ingredients. Instead of the basil I decided to use Swiss chard, and the pine nuts are substituted for almonds. I kept the Parmesan cheese and the olive oil because I believe that these really make the pesto taste like pesto and make it insanely addicting. To make it you simply have to roast the nits a but because that enhances the flavor, and then blend it up with the Swiss chard and a pinch of salt. Yes, that’s right, only those three ingredients! NEVER blend pesto with the Olive Oil and the cheese. That’s just not how it’s done. At least not in Italy. After blending, the Olive oil and Parmesan are stored in by hand, one by one, slowly. This makes it really creamy instead of mushy!
Pesto is also great in nutritional value! Although it is quite high in calories it is super healthy! The greens provide you with a lot of minerals, vitamins, and fiber! The nuts add some healthy fats and a protein kick as well as other nutrients! The olive oil also provides you with some more healthy fats, which help you absorb the proteins better and the cheese gives some essential protein. So if you love pesto, here’s another reason to add in on everything. But honestly, I believe that this recipe doesn’t only work great in this dish but also you can totally add that pesto on top of scrambled eggs, into pasta, on top of toast, or whatever is on your mind!
For the grain as carbohydrates I decided to use white rice. If you want to make it even healthier use whole grain/ brown rice but it is quicker when using white rice since it doesn’t have as long cooking times! If you do not like rice at all but still want to tray making this recipe you can substitute it for another grain! Pasta or Quinoa would work great too! Together with the pesto, the rice gets really creamy, kind of risotto-ish but not completely. Adding pesto if any sauce to rice is such a great way to spice up things a little and get your traditional plain rice to a mouthwatering dish!
So, now we have the rice and the pesto… but what even is a bowl without some toppings and crunch. With the vegetables you can really feel free to add whichever are your favorites. I used cauliflower and brussel sprouts because they are in season now. Also, the brussel sprouts add some more greens into the dish and I love using the cauliflower because it is a great vegetable which can easily take on the favor of the spices! That way you can really taste your seasoning! Drizzle a little olive oil on top and roast them until crispy! This also works really great for meal prep if you just want to roast a big bunch of vegetables in the beginning of the week!
The chickpeas are coated with a great amount of spices and a good amount of olive oil! The oil is necessary in order to get a crunch and to intensify the flavor. If you want to make them extra crispy, pan fry them, but they are also super delicious when made in the oven plus you don’t have to wash an extra dish! So it’s a win win!
When it’s all put together it just makes such a bomb combination! The creamy rice (if you want to make it extra ? add some more fresh Parmesan cheese on top!), the hearty roasted vegetables and the crispy chickpeas just make such a great combo! It is such a great comfort meal with such delicious fall meal packed with local and seasonal ingredients! A perfect mid-week dinner and great for meal prep! I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I do!
Creamy Pesto Rice with Crispy Chickpeas and Vegetables
An ideal weeknight dinner with a delicious twist on traditional pesto with crispy chickpeas and roasted veggies!
What you will need
- 100 G Rice
- 100 g Chickpeas caned, washed & rinsed
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 handful sage
- 180 G Brussel Sprouts
- 180 G Cauliflower
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 Tsp Paprika Powder
- 1/2 Tsp Chilli Powder
- 1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder
For the Pesto:
- 2 stalks Swiss Chard
- 20 g Almonds
- 20 g Parmesan Cheese freshly grated
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1,5-3 tbsp Water can sub for olive oil for even more flavor
- 1 tsp salt
That‘s how it works:
Roast the almonds in a non stick pan over medium high heat for about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Into a food processor add the almonds, the Swiss chard and the salt and pulse until combined! Pour the mixture into a bowl and alternately add the grated Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and water into the mixture until it gets all creamy and rich! If you want to make it all Italian, you can only add olive oil, but I decided to make it a little lighter so I mixed it with water.
In the meantime preheat the oven to 180C. Wash and rinse the brussel sprouts and cut them in half. In a bowl combine them with about 1/2 tbsp of Olive Oil and the balsamic vinegar. Spread them onto a third of a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Cut of the cauliflower into smaller pieces. Add them into a bowl, along with chili, paprika, and turmeric, 1/2 tbsp of olive Oil and salt. Combine them all and place on another third of the baking tray.
Wash, drain and tap the chickpeas dry for extra crispyness. Add the Olive oil, sea salt, and finely chopped up sage into a bowl along with the chickpeas and toss it. Add them to the remaining third of the baking tray and bake everything for 20-25 minutes!
In the meantime cook the rice according to package instructions. About 3 minutes before it being done, add the pesto into the pot, keeping 1 tabslespoon aside. When done, stir it all together and you will see that the parmesan cheese has melted and it is all creamy.
By now the vegetables and chickpeas should be done and crispy too!. Seperate the rice and onto two bowls. Top them with the vegetables and chickpeas and drizzle the remaining pesto on top. Grate some fresh parmesan for the finishing touch and enjozy!