I remember when I first moved to California. I had never heard of a Farmer’s Market back east. Sure, we had farm stands but I grew up in the country. Back then, everything was organic; my neighbor was dropping off bags of zucchini she grew in her yard. Man, that makes me sound old. “Kids, when I was your age, grandma made me pick green beans and onions in the back yard.”
Ok, I’m getting off the subject. So, I started going to Farmer’s Markets here because I thought it was cool. I especially liked any dips or bread I could get. I did dabble with roasted beets on the encouragement of a farmer. I think that’s when I started to “get it”. Soon after, I’d start coming home with bags of fresh veggies to cook up.
Where I live now, there’s a weekly Farmer’s Market. I have to say, I’ve gotten quite good at what’s in season, what’s a good price and how to use what I’ve brought home. It’s quite fun to go and sort of create dishes on the fly, just by being inspired by what’s in a basket on a table.
Last weekend, I was planning on making some vegetable soup for some friends. When I walked by one booth and saw all of the herbs, particularly the basil, I thought “Hmm, that soup would be SO much better with a dollup of pesto.” And that’s how this all began.
I know. I could have just said that I bought some basil but I wanted to give you the backstory first. If you know me, you know there’s always a story.
This is a great example of how simple ingredients are just simply delicious. Pesto is so easy to make. You can prepare it in a blender, food processor or even with an immersion blender. Follow the directions below and use it for pasta, a hearty soup, on bread, with tomatoes, for your tomato sauce, or on a sandwich. It will keep in the fridge at least a week (keep some olive oil on top and it will last even longer) and you can even freeze it.
As always, I hope you are inspired and I encourage you to taste the difference between this and store bought. I doubt you’ll be disappointed. See the dairy-free version below.
2 cups of fresh, organic basil
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated romano cheese (or 1 cup of either but use good, Italian cheese!)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 – 1/2 cup good quality olive oil
Pulse basil in processor. Add all other ingredients. Add more oil unti the proper consistency of a paste is reached. Keep oil on top to keep fresh and prevent browning.
*Tip: To make dairy-free pesto, omit cheeses and add 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Increase salt to taste. Use 1-2 tablespoons more olive oil.