Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I make pesto all the time and it is so easy and delicious!

I made pesto pasta last night and just had leftovers for lunch and it was SO delicious I feel like I should tell the world. EVERYBODY MAKE SOME PESTO! It is so easy and gratifying!!! You probably think that only your Italian friend's grandma can make perfect pesto, that it takes some secret magic touch. But it's not true! It's actually so simple and easy to make and pretty hard to screw up.

I am going to tell you my method. First let me tell something about me that you may already know from reading this blog:
I hate hate hate food processors. I don't know what is wrong with me, but I can never get them to work right, and it is so frustrating I can't take it. (Alena, I could really relate to your feeling of wanting to cry when your Cuisinart wouldn't work at first. In fact, I almost cried reading that post, I empathized so much.) BUT I LOVE my trusty hand blender, and have yet to find something you are supposed to make with a food processor that you can't make with a hand blender.

SO. Here's how I do it:

Put the following ingredients in a big sturdy bowl:
2-3 bunches fresh basil leaves. (Last night I also threw in a handful of arugula, which added some nice bitterness to the flavor. Sometime I would like to try making pesto with just arugula.)
About 1/2 cup pine nuts
4 garlic cloves, smashed (Feel free to increase or decrease depending on how much you like garlic. Although I think 4 cloves is on the garlicky-er end of the spectrum, so maybe you shouldn't put in too much more than that.)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I am not sure if this is exactly how much I put in. You want to put enough in to get everything wet enough so it will blend, but you don't want it too liquidy.)
about 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
The juice of one lemon (Not everybody does this, but I think it is essential to the flavor--adds a little sweetness to counter all the saltiness.)
Salt/Pepper to taste

Stick that hand blender in and blend away. Hand blenders are also called "immersion" blenders for a reason--you really have to bury it in your ingredients--if you hold it at the surface it will make a mess and not blend as well. You may have to stop a couple of times and scoop the stuff off the blades with your hands to make it blend better.

I like a thicker pesto. Some people like it to be really smooth and thin. Up to you.

Now look. You are done, and you only got one bowl dirty. And you can clean your hand blender by just taking the detachment off.

What are you gonna use your pesto for? Well, you could put in a pizza. You could make some pesto lasagna. You even put in on a sandwich. Make that sandwich a PANINI!!!

Or, you could just make the traditional pasta.

I like thin spaghetti with pesto. Here's something easy you can add to it that will make it EVEN MORE DELICIOUS:

Roasted grape tomatoes.

Here's how you do it:

Preheat the oven to about 425. Put a whole bunch of grape tomatoes on a baking sheet. Toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Pop those babies in and let them roast for about 15 minutes. They will burst and get wrinkled and slightly browned. Don't let them get too burnt--you want them to still be soft and juicy and tomato-y. (tomatoey?)

Throw them into the pasta.

Put tons of red pepper and more cheese on top.

This is a good summer dish because it has a lot of fresh ingredients and doesn't require much cooking. It's also just as good cold.



  1. Sarah - great idea - I just got an immersion blender that I wanted for thickening soup and now that the weather is getting warmer I'm thinking 'what the heck will I do with this now?' soooo much easier to clean - you are right.

    Love the blog and all the chatter - I'm Amy B.'s cousin and she recommended this to me.

  2. Hey Sheryl! Amy is awesome. I also recently purchased an immersion blender and it is great for smoothies too! I have been making one almost every morning. It takes two minutes and is so much easier to clean than a regular blender!

    Also, I was telling Sarah last night that I actually made ARUGULA pesto over the weekend. It was good. It is basically the same exact recipe as regular pesto. I am eating it on a sandwich right NOW!

  3. sheryl! i'm glad you found the blog :)

    i found a blender in one of my cabinets when i moved in... after finals are over i think i'll wash it out and try my hand at pesto!

  4. Thank you so much for this post!! I just got home from the farmer's market with a big bag full of basil and all the other stuff needed to make my giant semi-annual batch of pesto only to discover...that I left my food processor/blender at a friends a few months ago and totally forgot about it (that's how often I use the blasted thing). I do however have my trusty immersion blender and was praying it would work. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  5. I liek that "crying" is a possible label. I like my food processor — a min-cuisinart that I've had since the early went and lived in Europe for about 7 years with me, even -- but I know that feeling, when something that shoudl work just doesn't work...Hopefullly that won't happen to me because I'm about to go MAKE PESTO with my hand blender!