First & FAIL: Pesto

It took 24 hours to ponder my first blog post before I realized it shouldn’t take so much thought… I just needed to start cooking for it to come to me & it did!

Monday night I dove into my first experience making homemade pesto; seemed easy enough. I’ve been so excited to start an herb garden to kick off the first summer with our big patio & my Siam Queen Thai Basil went wild! Well, I went a bit wild too… with the garlic. You’ll find in my food ventures that I’m not big on following recipes (will explain my philosophy in its own post soon enough!) & for once, my absentmindedness paired with a disregard for proportions turned into an initial flop.

from my garden
Siam Queen Thai Basil from my garden

With an enthusiasm for cooking passed down from my Grandma, I whipped out her 70s era Cuisinart food processor to get chopping. In goes a handful of pine nuts & an unidentified amount of garlic cloves. 15 sec, a swipe of my rubber spatula, & we’re on to the fresh basil & fresh grated parm. I pumped up the my fresh picked stock of basil with some grocery store basil. Flavor was delicious, but as I picked leaves, the plant seemed to look more & more like a mutant GMO basil plant. Delish, nonetheless, but prob will prob consider some organic action. Can’t forget I threw in some fresh Apple Mint & Parsley from my garden as well!

I bought some good Extra Virgin Olive Oil to make my first pesto feel special. I drizzled it into my roaring food processor until I found a good consistency. A few more spatula swipes & 10-15 sec of blending & it was time for a taste… that almost burnt my tongue off! Holy raw garlic overload!

Unwilling to give up on my precious homegrown basil, I went into pesto emergency mode. This is what I get for bragging that I never cook anything bad! I reached for more parm & blend blend blend… no good. More pine nuts & blend blend blend & more olive oil drizzles… still no good. Lightbulb!! Pesto Cream Sauce!! So I threw in some FAGE Greek Yogurt waiting to mix with red curry paste to marinade chicken (for Tuesday’s summer dinner party) & blend blend blend. FAIL turned WIN by way of yogurt!!

I tossed a few tablespoons of the pesto cream (a little at a time of course, as it still had quite the garlic punch) with some rotini pasta & paired it with my Italian Ranch Grilled Chicken for a perfect summer dinner!

~~~~ Post Script ~~~~

Not just being a bit more attentive, I may follow suit of a recommendation from one of my fave food blogs, 101 cookbooks, and hand chop my next attempt at pesto. Texture & elbow grease are both staples in my cooking (as much as I don’t want to overlook my love for the ol’ Cuisinart), so recipe-following or not, I look forward to putting a bit more attention & love into the next go-round.

Finally, in all the pesto frenzy, I continued the FAIL by not taking any photos of my creation & re-creation & final deliciousness. My fresh basil & non-recipe notes (see: 3-9!! cloves of garlic) will have to suffice. Beginnings of the beginning…

Pesto Recipe Notes

Pesto Recipe Notes

Pesto To Taste

  • 2-3 cloves of Garlic – To start!! Add more to taste
  • 1-2 handfuls of Pine Nuts – or Walnuts or Toasted Almonds or…
  • 3-4 fistfulls of Fresh Basil – Pick, Rinse, Spin
  • 1-2 handfuls of Fresh Grated Parm – or Asiago or Romano or Mahon
  • Good Extra Virgin!! Olive Oil – enough to get the consistency you like
  • S&P to taste
  • Flair: Mint – Parsley – Cilantro&Lime – Spinach&Arugula&Lemon – Rosemary&Walnut – Sundried Tomatoes – Yogurt or Ricotta for a Creamy Sauce – Roasted Red Peppers
  1. Chop garlic & pine nuts together first 15 sec in a food processor.
  2. Add basil, parm, & S&P, process another 15 sec.
  3. Turn processor on & slowly drizzle olive oil until you find a consistency you like. Light but pasty so it sticks to your pasta, salmon, etc.
  4. For fridge storage, make sure to either create a film by drizzling a film of olive oil or putting saran wrap on top. For freezer storage, spoon into an ice cube tray, freeze overnight, & store in air-tight freezer bags for a quick dinner.

Many thanks to my brave tastetesters who didn’t flinch (too much) in sharing everlasting garlic breath w/ me.

Lex & Dre ❤ my fave people to cook for!

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2 responses

  1. Great idea Erin…I like the blog! Can I subscribe to it and receive notices?

    Also an idea that works when I make pesto from my garden or farm fresh food — I use chopped up garlic shoots so that the garlic doesn’t overwhelm and they’re green and flavorful too. I should give you some to try out for next time. Also, have you ever frozen the chopped up basil in ice cube trays? That is easy to do and then you just throw a couple cubes into the recipes throughout the year (this works well when the garden goes ape shit!

    Look forward to more on this fun venture…

  2. I’ve actually used the 101cookbooks pesto approach before & while it’s something every cook should try, my advice would be to stick with the Cuisinart. I don’t think the consistency of food-processor pesto is noticeably different than chop-for-hours-by-hand pesto (provided that you layer in the ingredients). I’m not made out of time, Pesto!

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