Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Last Taste of Summer

{Ridiculously Easy Lemon Zest Pesto}

Two nights of temps in the 40's and my tub of basil is looking like the garden of lost souls in The Little Mermaid. Quick! What to do with all that basil before it withers and blackens and shrivels up for good? There's one easy answer, my friends, and it's delicious: Pesto.

I love garlic but I don't add it to my pesto. Instead I use fresh lemon juice and a pinch of lemon zest; it seems to compliment the peppery, cheerful sweetness of my basil whereas the garlic overpowers it. If you must have your garlic add two or three cloves to this recipes. Either way you really can't mess up making pesto- it's a taste-as-you-go endeavor which suits people like me who have an aversion to following precise written directions.



{all measurements are basic suggestions- add more basil if you have it!}

2+ cups packed basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts* (if you have the inclination toast them on the stove top; it deepens the flavor)
juice from one small lemon
2 teaspoons lemon zest (or to taste)
1/2 grated Parmesan or Reggiano cheese (I use a combination of both)
1/3+ cup olive oil
sea salt & good cracked pepper (to taste)

* if you live in India and can't get pine nuts like my wonderful blog friend Priya, substitute with almonds or walnuts

Process basil, pine nuts, cheese in food processor into a rough paste. Add lemon juice and zest, then slowly add oil until desired consistency is reached. You really can't mess this up and you can add more or less of any ingredient. The only thing to remember is that both these cheeses are quite salty so you may decide not to add any sea salt at the end. Serve immediately on crusty sourdough, with pasta, in a mozzarella panini, over fried eggs and tomato, etc.

Storage: Pour pesto into a glass jar and top with a little olive oil to keep the surface from turning brown.  Cover and store in the fridge. For fresh pesto all winter, keep the olive oil to a minimum and roll the thick pesto out on plastic wrap the way, say, one makes Play-doh snakes (if one did that sort of thing). Separate into smaller segments with a knife and wrap each one in plastic wrap and store in the freezer. Another way is to pour the pesto into ice cube trays, freeze, then pop out and store pesto cubes in a plastic ziplock. Ta-da!


  1. If someone, anyone can tell me what to substitute for pine nuts which we don't get here, I can be making heaps of pesto with all the basil growing in my garden.

  2. Ha! Priya, good point! I just amended the recipe with a little asterisk. Use any nut you like- almonds or walnuts would be quite good. You can also add other herbs like parsley or mint for variation. Happy pesto-making! xo

  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog and saying hi! I love pesto and lemons, so this recipe is going to be a new favorite for sure!

    Your header is so much fun - the paint brushes and oils! Can't wait to explore your blog some more!

    And your sister, does she have a blog as well?

  4. This recipe looks amazing. I like the idea of replacing garlic for other flavors. Cannot wait to try. I happened upon your great blog through Mel @ Reverie. I fascinated by your life in Joshua Tree, one of my favorite places!

  5. Making Play-doh snakes was always super duper fun...guess I'll try this one. luv

  6. Oh I love pesto!! I will have to try this, thanks for the recipe, mmmmm!!! Much love!!!

  7. Oh my goodness, this looks so delicious!!! I totally going to try making it. Thanks so much for the recipe :)

  8. This looks so beautiful. I've never found pesto to be an easy thing to photograph, but these shots are gorgeous. Perhaps this is due to the zest vs lemon, which always ends up turning my pestos a bit dull green after being left out for a little.

  9. Those photos are mouth wateringly delicious looking. Ive just planted basil seeds (being in the southern Hem)and will look forward to making this in a few months. YUM

  10. thanks for all the compliments on my blog.

    i love pesto and have been looking for a good recipe, i will be trying this very soon.

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