Ronna Russell does it all: She’s the genius behind Style Perk, a web-based style consultation godsend (go there and do it, and read her blog, too); she’s the mom of my favorite young adults in the world; she’s down to earth, centered, and fun. There’s much more to say about her many charms, but one of the most inspiring to me is that she does life very healthily while managing a very full schedule. Perhaps related to her eye for taste and what goes together in regard to clothing and accessories, Ronna’s also got a creative flair in the kitchen and makes a classic basil pesto that’s to die for. I’ve asked her to share her recipe and thoughts below. I made it just now (easy-peasy) and struggled not to eat it all straight out of the food processor, before snapping some photos. Enjoy! – Malerie
A word about pesto… The quintessential summer goo, the ultimate topping for all things savory. There is nothing that isn’t made better with a dollop of pesto, except maybe ice cream.
I made my own pesto for years, by the deep freezer-full, every summer. Why, back in the day when all 12 kids lived at home, I made pesto from sun up till sun down, only stopping to kill chickens. I grew the basil from seed, harvested the pine nuts from the Christmas tree, stole the garlic, milked the Parmesan cow and rendered the olives.
Actually, what I did was pre-order a bag of fresh basil from Joe’s Garden. While waiting for the call, I headed to Costco for the 2-pack of their cheapest olive oil, a jar of pre-peeled garlic, plenty of Parmesan cheese and a couple bags of pine nuts. It was not an inexpensive venture.
When the basil order was ready, they handed over a brown paper grocery bag stuffed full of basil leaves, picked only moments before. The smell is like none other.
I set up an assembly line of pesto making, washed and de-stemmed the basil, toasted the pine nuts, got out the jars and lids. A food processor is a must for this project. One recipe fits perfectly into the food processor, the resulting pesto fits perfectly into one canning jar, which fit perfectly into the door of my deep freeze. Here it is:
4 cups packed basil leaves
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 garlic cloves
sprinkle of salt
1 cup olive oil
Cram all ingredients except the olive oil into food processor and turn it on. Slowly drizzle the oil into the mix through the tube thing until blended. Scrape out into a canning jar and freeze (or refrigerate).
Frozen pesto was my go-to fast food for a long time. It thaws quickly and one jar is just enough for one bag of pasta. You can toss in some grilled chicken or fish, if you like. That was dinner more times than anyone can remember.
One summer, when money was pretty tight, I substituted sunflower seeds (toasted, unsalted) for the pine nuts and cheap Parmesan for the good stuff. No one noticed.