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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ina Garten and the Best Pesto You'll Ever Make

For weeks now my darling husband has been eyeing my basil plants. He wiggles his eyebrows suggestively and whispers that magic word: "pesto." This afternoon he finally got his wish. I took a scissors to my beloved basil. A little bit of time in the kitchen with industrious sounds of whirring and grating and then there he was, offering me a spoon with a touch brilliant green pesto. I like pesto just fine, but this was a revelation. This was edible gold. This was the best pesto I've ever had. I'm not ashamed to admit I actually licked the food processor bowl when he was done.

If you haven't tried to make your own pesto before, now is the time. Plenty of folks have a bounty of summer basil they are looking to get rid of. And the funny thing is that most people think of pesto as the sort of thing you only buy pre-made in a jar. A so-called "convenience" that robs you of flavor and gives you chemical additives all in the name of a time savings. But Terry whipped up this batch in no time, less than 30 minutes from start to finish (and he hand-grated the cheese).

Are you persuaded yet? Because after that tiny effort, the possibilities are endless. Tonight a simple dinner over pasta. Tomorrow chicken pesto and brie sandwiches for lunch, home-made ravioli with pesto for dinner. Pesto mixed with eggs for a flavorful and quick breakfast. See, now I'm drooling.

Of course, because pesto is an elegant dish that relies on the quality of a few ingredients, getting the most out of it means not cheating on the quality of your base ingredients. Please I beg you, do not put that green canister powdery crud "parmesean" in this recipe.

Pesto is well accepted within the canon of gourmet foods, but when it comes to skinny, that gets a bit tricky. Pesto is never shy on cheese or olive oil, which makes it rich, indulgent, and not exactly diet food. The good news is that those flavor packed ingredients makes a little bit of pesto go a long way. So you will have to decide for yourself: if, like me, one small bite of this glorious pesto sends you straight to heaven, it is worth it. A worthy indulgence that reminds you that eating can be pure pleasure.

If you are looking to improve the nutritional content a little, you can reduce the total amount of olive oil in the recipe from 1.5 cups to 1.25 cups and you will save yourself 4 grams of fat per serving. With or without this little modification, a serving of this flavorful pesto has a moderate amount of calories and an indulgent amount of fats. But really, sometimes it is just worth it.

And who is responsible for this revelation? For pesto that is both classic and a standout all at once? Sadly, I can't take credit. That honor goes to Ina Garten. Check out her Pesto recipe now (be sure to scroll down to the "pesto" recipe. Don't let the pasta recipe at the page top confuse you). The only modification we made was to use almonds in place of the walnuts. I don't have an official rating system, but this one gets two thumbs up, five wooden spoons, put immediately into your favorite recipe files.


Here is the Original recipe. Be sure to scroll down to the "pesto" recipe. Don't let the pasta recipe at the page top confuse you.

Why don't you post the recipe?

This is a recipe review. When I make another person's recipe I respect the time and work they put into creating it by not replicating the recipe on my site. I have provided a link to the original recipe and a clear named attribution. I hope you enjoy.

The nutritional information should be posted later this week. Sorry, but because this makes a jar-sized batch, I haven't yet worked out the right serving size.


jamiegates said...

I love pesto, and have shamefully only enjoyed the jarred kind. I would love to have this recipe; unfortunately your link isn't working.

Erin @ The Skinny Gourmet said...

Jamie: Thanks for making me aware of my error. I've fixed the link. Turns out I had mis-typed the HTML syntax. Ahh geeky problems.

Hope you give it a try and enjoy!

Sarah said...

I usually use my entire basil harvest to make pesto, then I freeze the pesto in ice cube trays, and store in freezer bags once it's frozen.

This makes it extremely convenient to bust out a tablespoon or two of pesto at a time for recipes, and sooooo much cheaper than buying prepared pesto.

Darius T. Williams said...

I love pesto - and I bet Ina does make a pretty good one. It seems that most things she makes are sooo good. I'm still allowing this new season to grow on me though - lol.


Sherihan said...

I looooove pesto, it pairs amazingly with any dish.pasta, pizza,chicken and other veggies. so delicious and flavorful and YES i made my own home made pesto before (i used pine nuts) and its very quick and easy and extremely healthy and good for u, good news is i got my low fat version from and here is the link,


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