Ever since writing my last post and Coconut Oil Veggie Stir Fry recipe, I’ve had healthy fats on my mind and been brainstorming how I can include more omega-3s into our diets (usually sometime around 2:30am when my little dude seems to like to get up, have a snack, chat, and hang out for a bit). And then one night…or morning…or whatever god awful hour it happened to be, I got it!
In case you haven’t noticed, we looove pesto around here. And really, who doesn’t?! Oil, salt, sometimes cheese, and a little something green…mmm! I could eat it every day. But before I make good on that threat, I thought I’d concoct a healthier version that I actually could (dare I say, should?) eat by the spoonful. As it turns out, pesto is exactly the omega-3 super vehicle I was in search of.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that cannot be manufactured by our bodies, but rather must be obtained from the food we eat and are needed for proper cardiovascular, neural, and mental function. Two of the most popular plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids are flaxseeds and walnuts. Consuming an adequate amount of omega-3s is important for everyone, but it is absolutely crucial for those in the most developmental stages of life — pregnant women (who are growing a brand new, rapidly developing human), breastfeeding mothers (who are nourishing a new, still developing human), and children (who are themselves little developing humans).
Omega-3 deficiency has been linked to mood disorders and mental disfunctions like depression, anxiety, postpartum depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and memory loss. Low levels of omega-3 in one’s diet may also contribute to physical ailments like fatigue, poor circulation, eczema, dry skin, brittle nails, and hair loss. Some studies even attribute the development of behavioral issues in children, like ADHD and autism with omega-3-poor diets. While I don’t know enough to definitively draw those conclusions, I do strongly believe that omega-3-rich foods help fight inflammation in the body (thereby combating disease) and encourage healthy neurological and mental function.
My son gets a scoop of ground flaxseeds in his morning oatmeal, but what has an even greater omega-3-concentration than flaxseeds is flaxseed oil. It has a delicate composition and can’t withstand heat well, so it’s not recommended for cooking, but for pesto — perfecto! I regularly snack on raw, organic walnuts in my trail mixes, sprinkle them on top of my oatmeal, and toss them in my salads, but I haven’t cooked much with them otherwise. Until now…
The pesto I made for this Roasted Petite Potato Salad with Haricot Verts and Walnut Basil Pesto is super-duper nutrient-dense and omega-3-rich. The combination of the savory pesto, the crispy on the outside and buttery smooth on the inside roasted petite potatoes, and the refreshing snap and slight sweetness of the haricot verts has made this dish my latest summertime favorite. I can’t wait to fire up the grill, invite some friends over for a BBQ, and serve it alongside some veggie burgers.
Oh, and my sleepless little guy gobbled it up too. I just omitted some of the bigger walnut pieces from his serving. It actually makes for decent finger food if you don’t mind little pesto-y paws. 😉
- 4 cups petite potatoes
- 4 cups haricot verts
- 1.5 cups raw walnuts, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 6 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons flaxseed oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a little extra
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- handful of chives, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 450.
- Rinse the potatoes. The ones I used are about 1 inch in diameter. If you’re using a larger variety, you may want to halve them.
- Place the potatoes in a pot of water over high heat on the stove, and boil for 5 minutes.
- Carefully (they’re hot!) remove the potatoes from the water. Toss them in olive oil and and sprinkling of salt, and then spread them out onto a baking sheet (or two).
- Place them in the oven and bake 20-25 minutes, or until slightly browned and the skin is a bit crispy. Shuffle them around once or twice while they’re baking so they cook evenly.
- In the meantime, trim the haricot verts and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces.
- Place them in a steam basket over a pot of boiling water (or whatever you use for steaming veggies), and cook until they're tender but still have a little snap.
- Place the walnuts in a pan, and toss over medium heat until they’re lightly toasted.
- Peel the garlic cloves and pulse in a food processor until finely minced.
- Next, add 3/4 cup of the toasted walnuts, basil, oils, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and lemon juice. Process until smooth and blended.
- In a large serving bowl, toss the potatoes and haricot verts with the pesto. Mix in the remaining walnuts and chives. Maybe finish with a squeeze of lemon and dash of salt. Enjoy!