Monday, October 24, 2011

Pesto Sauce

I got this recipe from my Stepmom, Peggy, and she gave me her suggestions for preparing this. It was from an article by Sandra Wu titled "Better Pasta Salad with Pesto." I didn't make the pasta salad at the time. In fact I only made the pesto because I had a ton of basil that was a couple days from going bad. I wasn't sure if I would use this with pasta or chicken or fish, but I knew I could freeze it for a rainy day.

I've always loved pesto, but I've never been a huge fan of the pesto that I buy from the store. I think it must be the preservatives because something in it just tastes...funky? Even though I had tried this pesto before (at my dad and Peggy's), I was still a bit worried about how it would taste. Totally unnecessary. This was delicious! I had John try a bit from the spatula and he was equally pleased - and I think surprised, given his penchant for green sauces. :)

This recipe made about half a jar. If I had a ton of basil I might have doubled it, but I just kept it as is. It will be more than enough for the two of us. Note, the spinach isn't necessary, but it does make the sauce a little brighter. I had some baby spinach so I used it, but it's not a make-or-break ingredient in this dish.

*1/4 cup pine nuts
*2 medium garlic cloves, pressed
*1/4 cup olive oil
*3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
*1 cup packed baby spinach
*1 tsp salt
*1/2 tsp pepper
*2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
*1 1/2 oz parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 3/4 cup), plus extra for serving
*6 tbsp light mayo

*Cook garlic. (Original recipe said to put it in the boiling water for pasta for one minute, then remove and rinse with cold water). I put two cups of water in a microwave safe bowl with the garlic. I cooked it for about two minutes in the microwave, and decided that was good enough.

*Toast the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until golden and fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. 

*When garlic is cool, peel and mince through a garlic press.

*Place pine nuts, garlic, basil, spinach, pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt in a food processor and process until smooth, scraping sides of a bowl as necessary.

*Add cheese and mayo and process until thoroughly combined.

*Transfer to your dish or to a jar to fridge or freeze.

All my green ingredients in one bowl! As you can see, my basil was on the verge of wilting.

Toasting pine nuts

Time to process in batches! (I only have a mini food processor, but it works great!)

One batch of green leafy mixture to the side

All mixed up!

Nice texture and great flavor!
My jar! I always save jars when I buy sauces (not too often anymore) so I can freeze or store my own. I now have some tomato cream sauce and pesto sauce in the freezer for a rainy (or lazy!) day.


  1. mmmmmmm...I need to make some of this for my freezer before winter and all the fresh basil is gone! Did you find your's at TJ's?

  2. I did! I had some from Marsh but then picked up more at TJ's. I need to grab some more to have extra in the freezer this winter. I've been going crazy freezing sauces - including Salsa Rossa! This is definitely one of the best Pesto recipes I've tried, though!


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