Chef Ward Alper’s Lively Pesto Sauce Recipe

Wellness with a Wow

Chef Ward Alper’s Lively Pesto Sauce Recipe


Not only do I love this guy’s food, I also love his attitude about living well with diabetes!!

Our new friend, Chef Ward Alper aka ‘The Decadent Diabetic’ is sharing his ‘Pesto Sauce’ and ‘Wild Salmon with Pesto and Nuts’ recipe with us to help you stay happy and healthy. He blogs as “The Decadent Diabetic: Taking Back My Life and Table.”

Chef Ward says, “I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes years ago and, at the encouragement of a food editor, started writing and sharing recipes about four years ago. And yes, I eat and entertain and do it, to quote Sally Bowles “Divinely Decadent”. I have well over 300 recipes in my collection.”

Here’s Chef Ward’s tips and recipe for Pesto Sauce:

Strictly speaking, pesto is a generic term for anything that is made by pounding.

Nonetheless, pesto alla genovese (“Genovese pesto”), made with fresh basil, remains

Courtesy of the Decadent Diabetic Replacing your mortar and pestle with a food processor makes pesto a snap to prepare.

the most popular pesto in Italy and is how we think of pesto here in the United States. But I have also made sun-dried tomato pesto and ripe olive pesto.

If you have never made pesto sauce a food processor makes it a snap to prepare. I learned to make it in Italy, the old way (in a mortar and pestle) from the grandmother of a friend of mine. She winked as she told me that her sister made it all wrong because she was too cheap to use enough pine nuts and oil.

If you need to restrict some items in your diet, sauces help make everything more interesting. Once you have mastered a sauce, you have an unlimited number of dishes at your disposal. If you are eating a lower carbohydrate diet because of diabetes, or just to shed a few pounds, using some new flavors and textures may be your greatest asset in maintaining your eating regimen.

There are dozens of simple, flavorful sauces that can be used to make your foods more interesting. Each of them, like remoulade, royal caper and tartar, can be used with different proteins to give them extra “kick.” Exciting new flavors allow you to feel as though you are eating even better than before.

One of my favorites is pesto. I like it so much that I made it to be used as part of an hors d’oeuvre (with mozzarella cheese and tomato) to greet the guests at our wedding, along with an icy glass of champagne.

Pesto sauce has always been used on pasta, but is even better on spaghetti squash. Pesto adds incredible flavor to boring foods like chicken, shrimp, fish and tomato. If you use a low-carbohydrate pita or tortilla, you can even make a great pizza. Mixed with a little mayonnaise, it is a sensational spread for a basic turkey sandwich.

Fresh basil is one of the crowning glories of summer. It grows so profusely that pesto sauce is the perfect use for this abundant crop. Each fall I make batches of pesto sauce to give to friends and for us to freeze for the winter. The little tub of homemade pesto is received with so much joy you would think I had given my friends a little tub of gold.

My thought is that here in New Mexico where we are used to green sauces, this one might become a new staple in your repertory.

Once you have this sauce on hand, dozens of dishes are at your fingertips. I use it on chicken, spaghetti squash, and also on salmon and shrimp.

I share this recipe with both cup measurements and part measurements in case you, too, are tempted to make it in huge batches.


1 cup fresh basil (4 parts)

¼ cup fresh parsley (1 part)

2-3 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

½ cup olive oil (2 parts)

¼ cup pine nuts (1 part)

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (1 part)

Place the basil, parsley and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to break down the leaves and garlic.

On the lowest setting, slowly pour in the olive oil until a well mixed paste forms. Add the pine nuts (either toasted or raw) and pulse or process until the nuts are part of the paste.

Giada de Laurentis suggests that you should stir in the cheese by hand rather than processing it because the cheese breaks down with the heat of the blade. I now do this and it really is better.

I call for wild salmon for this recipe. You can substitute farm-raised salmon if you like. I do not enjoy wet fish. High heat is the key to making this and any fish dish work. I tend to cook the fish a little longer than advised below. Julia Child would smack me if she knew.


2 servings

Net carbohydrates: 6 g per serving

2 6-ounce pieces of salmon fillet

Wild Salmon With Pesto and Nuts is a tasty way to get more fish into your diet.

4 tablespoons pesto sauce

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup shelled pistachio nuts or toasted pine nuts

Chop the pistachio nuts so they are in small dice but you can still recognize that they are nuts.

Combine lemon juice and pesto sauce. Spread evenly over each piece of salmon. Press the nuts onto the salmon.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes per inch of thickness. I suggest cooking the farm-raised an extra minute or so.


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