How to Make Pesto!

The first time I ever made pesto, it turned out great but I really could have used step-by-step visuals to ensure I was doing it right. Thus, I bring you — my pesto recipe, with step-by-step images and lots of tips.

Pesto is the most versatile sauce/condiment/spread ever. Spread it on a sandwich, use it in a sauce for Italian-style pasta, use it as a marinade in grilling, fill stuff a mushroom with it. Get creative! One year for Christmas I bought about 2 pounds of basil and some canning jars, and gave everyone I knew the gift of pesto.

This recipe is adapted from madame Ina Garten’s method. The woman really can do no wrong. Because my food processor is a bit tiny, I halved the recipe. With this batch, I used some for a shrimp grilling marinade, for pesto pasta, spread it on many slices of bread, and then made pasta again. And I still have some left over.

Ingredient list: a lemon, fresh  basil, good olive oil, salt and pepper, freshly grated parmesan, an air-tight jar for storage, garlic cloves, pine nuts, salt and pepper again.

Begin by picking all the stems and brown parts off of the basil. Don’t skip this step — if any brown or wilted leaves make it in, the pesto will turn brown very quickly. Next, chop the garlic and toast the pine nuts. This is most easily done in a nonstick pan on LOW LOW heat. Pine nuts are so tricky. They take forever to toast, but will burn in a half second. Therefore, you can never ever take your eyes off them, and keep them moving in the pan. When they start to brown (after about 5 minutes), pour them out of the pan immediately because even with the stove off, the pan is hot enough to burn them.

In a food processor or blender, add in the garlic and pine nuts. Pulse until they look like the picture above.

Next, add in the basil, salt and pepper. Pulse until the leaves are pureed. Then slowly pour the olive oil in a little at a time through the feed tube, pulsing the food processor until evenly mixed and it looks like the green mixture in the next photo.

Next, pour in the parmesan and pulse for about a minute.

This last step is key — take a half of a lemon and squeeze a good amount of juice into the pesto. Mix it in, and you will instantly see the green color become brighter and more vibrant. Lemon juice does a really great job of preventing the pesto from becoming brown. When you store the leftover pesto in an air tight container, pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top to keep air out. If you do both the lemon juice and the oil layer, your pesto will last over a month in the fridge.

Pesto Recipe
Makes 2.5-3 cups, cook time 15 minutes

  • 2.5 cups packed fresh basil (3 large plastic packages, or 6 small, from the grocery store)
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 cup quality olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • Lemon juice of 1/2 a lemon
  1. Remove the stems and brown leaves from the basil, chop the garlic, and grate the parmesan.
  2. Place the pine nuts over the stove in a non stick pan. Turn the stove on to the lowest setting. Continuously move the pine nuts around, and never take your eyes off them. After about 5 minutes, they will start to brown. When they are toasted, remove them from the pan immediately.
  3. In a food processor or blender, add the garlic and pine nuts and pulse until finely chopped. Add in the basil, salt and pepper, and pulse until pureed.
  4. Pulse on low and slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube.
  5. Add in the parmesan and pulse until the mixture is evenly pureed.
  6. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and mix. Serve or store in an air tight container. Pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top of the pesto jar before storing.



Chorizo Breakfast Tacos

Tacos are so delicious that, if you ask me, I believe they should be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Today’s recipe covers the breakfast taco. These tacos are quick and simple to whip up, and are bursting with flavor…but not too much flavor for the AM.

While I eat a lot of Mexican food, I created this recipe on my own so I have no idea if it’s authentic. I made a trip to the Mexican market this time though, so perhaps it is more authentic than previous attempts. If you are Mexican or a Mexican food expert – please weigh in!

Flour tortillas topped with chorizo, eggs, salsa, crumbled queso blanco cheese, avocado slices and a drizzle of lime juice.

Ingredient list, clockwise: Crumbled queso blanco cheese, 6 eggs, mild salsa, half a yellow onion sliced, olive oil, salt, pepper, tortillas, 2 sleeves of raw chorizo, sliced avocado and lime wedges.

Here we have my choice for taco toppings, but you could add in all kinds of good stuff – cilantro, chili peppers, raw onions, hot sauce, sour cream, black beans, etc.

Start by sauteing the sliced onions in a drizzle of olive oil for a couple minutes. Then add in both sleeves of the raw chorizo. Break up the sausage and saute until it becomes crumbly. Drain the chorizo as best you can – this step is important. If you don’t drain as much grease as you can, you’ll end up with a very drippy taco.

Add the drained chorizo back into the pan and crack in 6 eggs. On high heat, let them scramble and mix with the meat.

The finished chorizo egg mixture – cook until the eggs are dry and fluffy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If you like your tortillas steamed, wet your hand and rub both sides of each tortilla. Microwave for 20 seconds, and they will be easier to form. Pile on the toppings and it’s ready to eat!

Chorizo Breakfast Tacos
Makes 6 tacos, cook time 20 minutes

  • 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 sleeves raw chorizo sausage
  • 6 large eggs
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 package small tortillas (I used flour)

For garnish

  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • Salsa
  • 1/2 package queso blanco cheese, crumbled
  1. In a large pan, saute the onions in olive oil on medium heat for 3 minutes.
  2. Add in both sleeves of the raw chorizo. Break up the sausage and saute until it becomes crumbled and cooked, about 5 minutes.
  3. Drain the grease from the cooked chorizo using a strainer and paper towels. Don’t skip this step – otherwise there will be grease everywhere.
  4. Add the chorizo and onion mixture back into the pan. Crack 6 eggs and stir until the yolks are broken up. Cook over high heat until the eggs are dry and cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Steam the tortillas by wetting your hands and rubbing both sides of each tortilla. Microwave for 20 seconds.
  6. Put it all together! Start with a tortilla, add the chorizo and eggs, then salsa, cheese, avocado slices and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.