There was a time when I bought pesto in a jar. In fact, I remember buying ingredients for a dinner I wanted to cook for a friend of mine. I was so upset about not being able to find a jar of pesto at the shitty grocery store in Harlem. I was getting visibly upset when my friend laughed at me, and directed me to the pesto ingredients. I honestly had no idea a regular person could actually make pesto from scratch. It was right up there with making your own pasta, or baking your own crackers. I mean, who does that?! My tiny 23 year old brain couldn’t even fathom it at the time. Twenty-three year old me would be shocked at what I’m capable of now.
I now make pesto every year. Basically, as soon as the farmers’ market starts selling basil, I’m all over it. I’ll make jars and jars of it, and put it on everything from pasta to bread to eggs (don’t judge me). Last year, I gained 8 pounds during pesto season. This year, I have a better plan. I’ve been freezing the pesto in ice cube trays, so I’m able to control my servings. I haven’t weighed myself yet, but I’m optimistic. And, honestly, if I still gain 8 pounds, it’ll be worth it.
There’s one problem with pesto. Pine nuts are fucking expensive. They are the diamonds of the nut world. If you can’t afford them, don’t worry, though. Just replace them with another nut that you enjoy (and is maybe on sale). I really enjoy the classic pesto flavor, so I always splurge on the pine nuts. But it can be painful. That being said, if you do spend the extra cash on them, try not to burn them like I did. But, if you do burn them… just go with it. Fuck it. They’re too expensive to start over.
All you need for this is a handful of ingredients, and a blender or food processor. Most people will tell you to use a food processor, but those things are expensive. Also, they take up more space that I just don’t have in my tiny apartment kitchen. The blender works just fine. You don’t have to be fancy to enjoy pesto.
4 cups basil
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Juice and zest from a large wedge of lemon
1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
To toast the pine nuts, all you need to do is throw them in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir them frequently until you notice browning. Remove from heat.
Combine all ingredients in blender, and blend until smooth.
Put that shit on everything.