Jun 9, 2010

What Summer Means to Me

Summer, to me, is a lot of things.

But first and foremost, it is pesto. Basil pesto. None of this cilantro pecan pesto crap.

My grandmother used to grow these huge bushes of basil next to her tomato trees in her garden on the hill. No, this was not Italy, it was Delaware. And those tomatoes and basil LOVED it there. I seriously have never seen tomato or basil like hers anywhere else. My city basil is pale and sad compared to her hardy bushes. Maybe it's because it's growing in a pot next to a parking lot instead of in the fresh countryside air of Delaware. At least I used organic potting soil! Apparently plants actually LIKE being IN the ground, not just in a pot.

Anyway. My grandmother and mother used to regularly make strong flavored pesto from this basil. Oh man, it was SO GOOD. We would eat it on pasta, smeared on homemade bread, on more pasta, and maybe sneak spoonfuls of it.

Now, though, I'm a grown-up and I would never ever eat spoonfuls of homemade pesto. No siree.

When I do make pesto now, I use basil from the farmer's market or from my local Whole Foods. In an effort to stretch out that pesto and make it maybe a little less calorie dense so I can feel less guilty about eating spoonfuls I mean eating it on pasta, I have a little trick: Add a half cup to cup of steamed spinach! It not only stretches the pesto, but it gives it a smoother flavor and brighter greener color.

My scientific recipe:

2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
2 cups of basil leaves, washed
Handful of pine nuts
Equal handful of walnuts
2 T extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste
1/2 to 2/3 cup shredded parmesean cheese (or another hard cheese)
1/2 to 1 cup steamed spinach (I use frozen, since that's what I had on hand)

Put everything in the cuisinart except the spinach because you're defrosting that in the microwave. (Coincidentally, my cuisinart is also from my grandmother. It's from 1980 - literally one of the very first ones - and so freaking heavy. But it still works. And she got it for me used!) Blend until smooth. Add more EVOO if necessary. Add the spinach, continue blending.

Serve over pasta. Or snitch nibbles with a spoon.

Confession: I may have eaten spoonfuls last night.
Confession #2: I may have had this pesto 3 nights in a row for dinner. And once for lunch.

I found this on Flickr. It's called "Grandma's Food Processor." It's the same one I have, and goes by the same name.


  1. Grandma grew basil BUSHES in Delaware, Italy. She'd call me in August to come over and fill that food processor with pesto that we'd freeze in muffin-size papers for the winter.

    In fact, I'm having the last one of my cupcake-size pestos from last summer as my basil seedlings struggle in the garden as we speak.

    I can't make pesto as good as grandma :-( I still miss her.

    Pesto for three meals? How's your breath?

  2. My breath is actually ok! Making it with only 2 cloves of garlic and some spinach cuts down on the 'bite' from the raw garlic.

  3. Coolest Boss ever9:43 AM

    I'd like to try some of this pesto you speak of... please share... :)

  4. If I hadn't finished it off last night, I would totally share. :-) Next batch I'll bring some in!


Thanks for sharing your thoughts and opinions! Makes this much more interesting.