Until I met Heather, I never truly enjoyed pesto. But then again, before I met Heather, I never had the real pesto, the creamy goodness made with fresh basil. Perhaps you are the same way, all you have tasted of pesto is from restaurants or the bottled version from the grocery stores. My friends, you haven’t tasted the real stuff until you have made it yourself. Trust me on this!
Several years ago, Heather gave me the pleasure of her homemade pesto. Now, I need to say something first before I go any further here, about Heather, so you can paint a picture in your mind as to how much I enjoyed this pesto. Heather was my mentor in my last year of college, she was my spiritual coach, my What-I-Wanna-Be-When-I’m-Her-Age person I have in mind.
She not only has a big heart for loving others, but also a big passion for good ol’ homecooked food. She has the mother’s touch when it comes to cooking, so when she made me this pesto, it was like I died and went to heaven. My tastebuds were having the time of their lives, people! I just had to get the recipe from her so I could share it with my family.
This is where the story gets funny. I wanted to impress my whole family (who all happen to be amazing cooks themselves) with this pesto, so I decided that I was going to make everyone a batch of this pesto for christmas. As I was making it, I misread the recipe and accidentally added instead of two cloves of garlic, I added two whole heads of garlic. So, as you can imagine, when it came time to taste-test, I got such a powerful ZING!! from the garlic that I stepped back in surprise.
Of course, I had no idea that I misread the recipe, I was clueless as to why my pesto was so much zingier (if that’s a word) than Heathers. When Mom came into the kitchen, I explained my situation, she tasted it and then asked me how much garlic I added. I told her, she looked at the recipe, looked at me as if I commited a serious crime, and said, “You were only supposed to add two cloves.”
My shoulders dropped, and I felt defeated, I really wanted to impress my family but apparently, my pesto was too garlicy. But alas, it was already made and I still gave it out with the warning that it may be too strong. Thankfully, everyone in my family loved it so it turned out to be a good thing – but let me not forget to tell you, it is still a family joke. My family still likes to poke fun at me for that rather obvious mess up.
So, lesson learned, more garlic = more zingy = more yummy in your tummy. That was my first lesson in garlic. Now, with every recipe, I add at least double the amount of garlic recommended. I also learned a lesson about pinenuts. Yes, pinenuts are REQUIRED in this recipe.
Do not even think about making this pesto if you do not have the pinenuts. Yes, pinenuts are expensive, but a little goes a long way, and in this recipe, the nutty taste will even out everything. Trust me, I made this mistake. The pesto ended up tasting too much like spinach, which doesn’t make good pesto. Remember, DO NOT SKIP THE PINENUTS.
Okay? Okay Here goes…Hilltop Pesto
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 20-30 basil leaves
- 2 cups spinach leaves
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 1/2 cup pinenuts
- 2 heads of garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1-2 tsp. salt
Here’s what to do:
- Mix all ingredients in a food processor.
Easy isn’t it? Just make sure you taste-test before you serve, because everyone likes their pesto in a particular way. There are many ways to enjoy pesto, too, here are some ideas of what I like to do with it:
- For a quick sauce for pasta, combine 1/2 cup chicken broth, 8 oz. melted cream cheese, and 1/2 cup pesto sauce. Mix and serve ontop of pasta.
- Use instead of mayo on sandwiches
- Mix with some hummus and use as dipper sauce for veggies
- Use it as a marinade on any kind of meat