Pesto made easy

It’s really ridiculous to spend $3-$4 for a jar of pesto at your local grocery store. And that’s not even the kind of quality stuff you could get at a gourmet food store. Considering the basic ingredients (basil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil) and the ease of a modified recipe, this classic spread can be a favorite in your home.

The first time I made it was not entirely successful. I had already decided to eliminate pine nuts as being an extra ingredient that could be eliminated. I also used all of my wife’s basil plants (which seemed like a lot at the time) but in the end, after the food processor, resulted in a very small amount.

Then, I was chatting up the owner of The Spice Merchant here in Wichita who passed on a wonderful alternative which he insisted his Italian friends found wonderful.

Spinach.

A bag of baby spinach, five to six whole cloves of garlic, somewhere close to a cup of grated Parmesan cheese, a small handful of fresh basil, and sufficient olive oil to create a spreadable consistency—all done up in a food processor. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for about two weeks. The top may start to turn brown but stirring it up with a spoon with return it to a beautiful shade of green.

Some of my favorite uses have been:

–Spreading it on artisan bread and broiling to make pesto toast, an alternative to garlic bread.
–Spreading it on chicken breasts or pork chops and grilling, making sure to sear the side with the pesto.
–Pan frying chicken strips, boiling penne, and then mixing it all together with two tablespoons of the pesto with some additional olive oil. All sauces do not have to be red or white.

It’s easy to be a “gourmet” when so many people don’t realize how easy it is to make the kind of things they THINK can only be found in a restaurant.

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