There are a few foods that scream summer to me: ice cream, fruit infused water, and pesto. I know it kind of sounds weird- but I think it symbolizes summer to me because of how simple it comes together with no cooking (which means no heat- yay!), and the fact that it tastes just as good at room temperature as it does hot- making it a summer must! Pesto is super versatile, super customizable, and family friendly. My family has never turned down a pesto centered meal!
A good pesto recipe needs to be well balanced since a little too much/too little olive oil, pine nuts, or even parmesan could make it a recipe for disaster. Here’s my go-to recipe:
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
In a food processor add the garlic clove and pulse a few times until chopped. Add pine nuts and pulse until the pine nuts and garlic are incorporated. Then add the basil leaves, packed in tight, add olive oil and process until combined. If you have a mini processor add half the leaves and oil, process until fully combines, and repeat with remaining basil and oil.
Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and pulse one or two more times. Then, add 1/2 of the parmesan and pulse a few times only until combined. Add the rest of the parmesan and repeat. Make sure you don’t over pulse the parmesan because the blades create heat and could begin to melt/degrade the parmesan.
Now that you’ve got the perfect pesto recipe you’ll want to slather it on everything- so here are a few tips to keep your pesto from feeling stale:
Add a dollop to soup:
I’ve added a spoonful of leftover pesto (fresh or frozen) to butternut squash soup, chicken noodle, and even my fave tuscan bean and spinach soup. It can turn a boring dinner into a luxurious meal worthy of being the main course at Sunday supper.
Make it the base of your pizza:
This particular recipe (found here: http://www.babycubby.com/baby-cubby-blog/3-kid-friendly-easter-appetizers-parents-will-adore/) uses asparagus instead of basil for the pesto but is the perfect appetizer for your next gathering or a sneaky way to get your babe to eat those greens.
Spread it on toast and top with an egg:
This is my go-to lunch or snack with any leftoverpesto in the fridge. The softer the yolk, the better.
Add it to your empanada (or egg roll, or wonton, or calzone, or …)
Pesto + Salmon - whodathunk? Toss pesto with whatever leftover cooked veggies and meats to create a quick lunch or app for you (or the family). Recipe for these empanadas can be found here: http://thisishowimom.com/pesto-salmon-empanadas/
You could also toss pesto with a grain salad, spread it on a grilled cheese, drizzle on your salad, or spread on your caprese sandwich- the possibilities are literally endless (and entirely delicious).
-Christine (make sure to follow Christine on Instagram HERE)