Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Why buy pesto when it's so easy to make and about 1/3 the cost of a store-bought jar that's loaded with salt? Okay, besides hasty convenience. Today's food prices, however, get me thinking twice about paying for convenience. So, here's a super easy, super tasty topping, condiment, pasta sauce, and an ingredient for my Pesto Appetizer. Fresh is best!


2 cups fresh basil, dry and packed a bit
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
3 TBSP pine nuts
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil

Put all ingredients into a food processor; mix on high speed, stopping to scrape if needed, until all ingredients are well blended and a uniform consistency. Presto!

There are all sorts of variations on this pesto theme depending on your taste and what you have peeping out of your fridge. For example, if you don't have quite enough basil, you can make up the difference with flat-leaf parsley. Add whatever you like...try adding pumpkin seed kernels (they're very healthy) instead of pine nuts, add some sun-dried tomatoes, olives, etc. Check here for a variety of pesto recipes. Go for it! All you need is a food processor and you can get to pesto heaven!

Here's my estimated cost, full retail, for what I used:
Pine nuts, $.75
Parmesan cheese, $.75
Olive Oil, $.50
Garlic, $.10
Fresh homegrown sweet basil, nearly free
($1.00 packet of seeds to grow enough basil to last you for years!)

In case you're thinking, 'Yes, but I don't have home-grown basil. How long does that take anyway?'...
We planted our seeds 2 months ago and have 6 plants. Yesterday, I just pinched off the top 1/4 of all the plants and had enough for the pesto. The bottoms of the plants will continue to grow so I can harvest again! An herb that keeps on giving.

Even if you haven't graduated to real plants yet since you can't even keep your fake plants dusted, you can still grow basil...and zucchini for that matter! Believe me on this one! Basil is not a real plant...it's a mercifully generous volunteer!

Now excuse me while I go make a little Insalata Caprese...
using pesto instead of plain basil and olive oil. That's the way my kids like it best!