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I adore basil pesto.  Love it.  Want to marry it.  Will some of you think it tastes like grass?  Maybe.  But you have to try it first before you whine and complain and tell me its like licking the lawnmower blade.

I don’t remember the first time I tasted it, which is weird for me – usually I’m like an elephant and his peanuts when it comes to food recollection – but I know I liked it from the start.  I wasn’t sure how to make it so I looked it up.  In a cookbook.  Not online. Craziness.  I made it myself and felt like I’d conquered the world.  I think I was 25 and just discovering my domesticity so in reality, I had conquered a corner of my own little world.  I know what recipe I used.  What cookbook it was from.  But I’m not going to tell you because I’ve since adapted it and made it my own.  Booyah!

Basil Pesto
2 cups of *leaves* (you can use all basil but I like to do a 1 to 1 basil/spinach mix… so healthy and tastes almost exactly the same, if you’re going for a basil flavor make sure this makes up at least half of the mix)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese 
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pecans or pine nuts or walnuts (but not black walnuts because I don’t like them, only English and its my recipe so I can dictate ingredients. And I choose pecans because I have them readily available “What up Great Ma?!” and pine nuts are freakin’ expensive)
3 cloves garlic
So thats it.  5 ingredients.  Zshoozsh it in a food processor, blender, mini chopper thingy that attaches to my immersion blender.  Heck, you can even grind it up with a mortar and pestle if thats your thing.  

Just make it and slather it on some stuff.  This will make quite a bit. Almost 2 cups. In fact, I half this recipe if I’m only making one thing that’s pesto-licious.  But by all means, make it all and put the rest in a little container in the fridge.  I don’t know how long it keeps but I’ve used it 2 days later and its still great.

Wanna know what to put it on?  Oh.  You already ate some with a spoon?  Not all I hope… I’m going to share the way I use it with pasta today because it’s my favorite. And we’re coming upon pasta salad season.

Pesto Pasta Salad

1 lb. pasta (cooked al dente, not mooshy), penne, bow ties, angel hair, Rock whatever you got!
3/4 cup pesto (the recipe is up there. scroll back up.  you got it.)
1/2 lb. asparagus, cut into inch-ish pieces
1 medium zucchini, sliced (into half moons or little pie slices)
1 – 2 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper (please don’t use green in this, its just not right. Well if you want but don’t say I didn’t warn you)
8 oz. package of mushrooms, quartered (I like them chunky, not sliced, but that works, too)
Olive oil, salt & pepper

Make the pesto. Cook the noodles. Slice the veggies.  You should’ve already done this since I told you these things in the ingredient list but I’m gonna make sure to cover all the basics.  I was NOT am not a great recipe reader.


Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil (I have no idea if this is how much but it seems to be a common quantity in a lot of recipes) over medium heat. Saute the asparagus, zucchini, and bell pepper until just soft.  And maybe getting a few little burn marks.  I like those. Season with salt and pepper.  Pour this on top of the already cooked and drained noodles.


Add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil to the pan, let it heat up again, and saute the mushrooms.  I don’t like to cook my shrooms with the other veggies.  It just doesn’t seem to work out right and I end up having to fish the others out so the fungi can finish. Dump the mushrooms into the noodles and veggies.

Add the pesto.  Mix it up.  Poof! Done.

I eat this warm the first time and cold the second.  You can definitely make this a day ahead and it’s a great picnic salad because it doesn’t have anything that gets funky too quickly.  And of course you can use whatever veg you have around.  Now, you want a whole meal?  Throw some chicken (rotisserie from the store, yo!) or shrimp in there. One dish wonder! Or make a couple burgers to serve with it.  See.  You’ve made dinner. Done. You are your family’s hero and doing a service to the world because you are sitting down with others to talk about the day and enjoy a meal.  Seriously.  The world is a better place when family’s eat dinner together.

Now, I want to mention that I fix foods that my kids (ages 2 & 5) like.  I do NOT make two meals (unless mom & dad want something super spicy).  That being said, they do not like pesto pasta.  They do however, like noodles and sauteed veggies.  So I keep some of each out plain for them to eat.  Then I force them to taste one bite off my plate of all these ingredients in pasta salad form in case they’ve changed their minds since I last shoved it down their throats.  So far it’s a “no”, but I will NEVER give up on the food experimentation with my kids.  Don’t do them a disservice and assume that if they don’t like it once, twice, five times, they will never eat it.  Don’t assume that you’re ruining their lives by making them take one bite.  Don’t worry that sometimes they spit it out… a little is getting to those tiny taste buds and the next time might be THE ONE.  My girls love brussels sprouts and I’m letting you know that that was not always the case.

By the way, I wouldn’t have liked pesto as a kid either.

And just so you know, I’ve tried the store bought stuff.  Blech. I’m sure there are some fresh and yummy ones out there but it’s just never quite the same.

I’ve got 3 more great pesto recipes coming up for you in the next couple weeks.  You don’t want to miss them.  You’ll cry if you do.

So make some.  Right now!


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