My oldest child is a swimmer, so once a week we stumble out of bed at 5:45 to get her to the pool before the meet. We don’t get home until early afternoon, by which time my other kids are hot and tired and crabby. Did I say the other kids? I mean me, too.
After a swim meet, cooking is always the last thing on my mind. But by the time we got home from last week’s meet and played for a while, it seemed like more work to buckle everyone in car seats and drive somewhere. You know you’re tired when take-out seems too hard.
But what about dinner? Luckily I remembered I still had some pesto, which I’d frozen last summer when basil was coming in by the bunch from our farm share. I quickly thawed some out, cooked some whole wheat rotini, and sliced up mozzarella and organic grape tomatoes. While I cleaned spinach for salad, I sent my five-year-old out to the patio for fresh basil (he’s the proud gardener of the family). Before we knew it, we had dinner. Easier than take-out. And healthier, too.
I’ve followed many pesto recipes over the years and now I don’t use a recipe at all. Simply wash and dry the basil (a cup at least, if not two) and throw it in the food processor. Process until coarse, then add salt and a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Process until smooth, adding more oil if necessary. Fresh parsley makes a nice addition (up to 1/2 cup), as does lemon juice. I skip pine nuts entirely, but sometimes throw in a handful of walnuts.
If I know I’m making it for the freezer, I don’t even add the garlic or cheese. I just spoon it into an ice cube tray and put it in the freezer. Later, I pop the individual blocks into a Ziploc for use all year long. Upon serving, I add a few cloves of garlic and lots of parmesan, plus more oil if needed.