Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Homemade Pesto

"Oh, you made pesto?"

"Yes, I did."

"Would you say your pesto is the best-o?"

"I don't know, but I'd say it's pretty good-o."

Bonus points if you can tell me what that's from!

Give up?

Yeah, that's from "Friends". "The One with Rachel's Date", to be exact. For some reason, whenever I say the word pesto, I think "Friends". It's inevitable. There are a lot of things that remind me of "Friends", come to think of it. First of all, every single person that guest starred on "Friends"? That's what I think of them from. Seriously. Even the ones of who have major careers of their own now. Alec Baldwin, Anna Faris, Giovanni Ribsi, Christina Applegate, Reese Witherspoon... I could go on all day. English trifles, chewing gum in a vestibule, and even short, layered haircuts all immediately make me think of "Friends". I think I might watch a little too much of that show...

Anyhoo, back to the topic at hand! Pesto. I'll tell you something- I've been making pesto every week for a couple of months now. Why, you ask? There are a couple of reasons for this. One, it's so convenient. Pesto lasts at least a week in the fridge, so I make a batch on Monday and it lasts all week. Two, I can use it for several super-fast, flavorful meals. Turkey Pesto Avocado Sandwiches are one excellent option, another is stirring some pesto into pasta. Add some cherry tomatoes, maybe a few pine nuts, and sprinkle of parmesan cheese, and you are done! The hubby has taken to calling my turkey pesto sandwiches "Better Than Subway Sandwiches". I like that title!

Another reason I keep making pesto? It's super affordable. Now, you may be prone to disagree with me due to the ingredients, but I'm here to set you straight. Yes, fresh basil is a couple of bucks (which I'm working on growing for this specific reason). And yes, pine nuts can be spendy. I pay $7 for 4 ounces. However, 4 ounces of pine nuts will make 4 batches of pesto. I usually get 2 dinners (consisting of 2 sandwiches), maybe a lunch (1-2 sandwiches), and a pasta dinner out of 1 batch.  Let's do the math on a weekly batch:

$4 for 4 ounces of basil
$1.75 worth of pine nuts ($7 divided by 4 batches)
$1.25 worth of fresh parmesan cheese ($5 wedge divided by 4 batches)
$0.25 worth of olive oil (estimating olive oil at $0.50 an ounce)
$0.25 worth of fresh lemon juice (estimating a fresh lemon at $0.50)
$0.01 worth of kosher salt (estimating kosher salt at $0.08 per ounce)

= $7.51

So, it costs me ~ $8 a week to make pesto. Divide that by 4 meals, you get $1.88 per meal. That's $0.94 per person. Ummm, sounds good to me! I'll also add that my recipe fills an 8-ounce jar while commercial pesto at the grocery store is about $7 for just 5 ounces.

So... have you learned today's lesson? Make your own pesto! :)


4 ounces fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1/4- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


1. Combine basil through kosher salt in food processor. Pulse 1-2 times to chop through the basil. Through the shoot, begin pouring in olive oil while the food processor is running. Pesto is done when the olive oil has emulsified, and the mixture is thick and creamy. Season to taste.
2. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up 1 week.


  1. Have you ever tried substituting pistachio nut meats for pine nuts in pesto? We actually prefer the flavor and out here on the Left Coast, they're actually cheaper. Oh yeah!

    1. I haven't tried pistachios. It sounds like an awesome experiment I'm going to have to try though!

  2. Jessica, I love pesto, and yours sounds wonderful! I always grow tons of basil in the summer, so this will be a great way to use it. And maybe I'll make some "Better Than Subway Sandwiches", too! :)

    1. I'm planning on growing my own basil (for the first time!) this summer, and I'm also planning on canning lots of pesto! You won't regret making those sandwiches :)

  3. I had pesto for the very first time last summer (on pizza) and I was instantaneously smitten.

    1. Oh yes, pesto goes hand in hand with bread, sauce, cheese, toppings... Yum!


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