Extra Helpings: Presto! It’s Pesto!


What is pesto?

Pesto is an easy to make basil-based sauce that is a fabulous way to give many dishes an instant punch of flavor. Pesto also adds color, so it can really make the plate pop.

Remember when I said last week to cook something everyday? Make some pesto and toss it with pasta. Later in the week, drizzle it on top of chicken, fish or pork chops… you can even stir it into a soup. You can also use it as a salad dressing, a dipping sauce or a spread for hot crusty bread.

Buying the freshest basil is the key to rich-tasting pesto. And, if you grow basil, your pesto will taste even better. Garlic, grated Parmesan, Romano or Pecorino cheese, pine nuts, olive oil and a little salt is really all you need to make this easy Italian staple.

I use a food processor when I make this, but traditionally it is made with a mortar (though that takes a bit of time and some effort). As well, some recipes call for putting all the ingredients into the food processor at the same time and pulsing it until it is mixed. But I think stirring in the cheese after blending the other ingredients gives the sauce more depth (and it tastes a little cheesier!).

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I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: mamashighstrung@gmail.com