"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Bad Home Cook Attempts Pesto…Again

by Julie on August 24, 2011

in Good Ideas Gone Bad

Let me just come right out and admit that my gardening skills are about on par with my cooking skills.

Although honestly I think my cooking is starting to pull ahead.

But my basil went great gangbusters, for whatever reason. Even though I killed my thyme and my cilantro (don’t ask me how I did it…these things happen independently from my intentions). Even my mint is sort of funky and feral.  My tomatoes aren’t ripening and my one pepper is being enjoyed by some kind of worm as I write this. But my basil. That worked out for once.

So, you know, I had to try pesto again.

Yes. I know. Pesto is one of those things everyone can do. I, however, remain an outsider. Just because every single one of you can make pesto doesn’t mean I can. Most of you probably passed first year algebra too.

OK, so anyway. Pesto.

First of all, I’d like to blame my food processor. Rather, the mini-food processor I got a few years ago at BlogHer Food Conference.  It’s small and cute, but I don’t think it’s got the right attachment for pesto.

Secondly, a lot of friends on my Bad Home Cooking page on Facebook chimed in to chortle and tell me how easy pesto is, how you basically throw some ingredients into the food processor and voila! pesto. Peachy.

Whatever. I was committed. Using Mark Bittman’s recipe for pesto, I proceeded with caution.

No, it didn’t help when everyone agreed that “you don’t need a recipe for pesto!”

I toasted the pine nuts

toasting pinenuts

Even toasting is tricky

The recipe called for two tablespoons of toasted pine nuts. But I threw in a tablespoon more of untoasted when my pesto was too oily…to thicken it up. It sort of worked.

Then I added the basil, some garlic, a little salt, the pine nuts and some olive oil, and, to paraphrase the great Virginia Warfield “WHOOSHED” it all together…

Did it turn out?

pesto, loosely defined...

Well, more or less. It tasted really good and fresh. It was a little too oily, not that finely-ground, but so what, right?

Obviously this is something that becomes second-nature once you do it several times.

Fair enough. I’ll try it again. But now I’m out of basil.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jamie August 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm

I too, have issues with my mini food processor…must be because there is no feed tube to drizzle in the olive oil. I found the easiest (albeit not time-saving) way to make it is by using the ancient Roman method of mortar & pestle. Hmmm…I wonder if pesto’s name is derived from pestle?


Julie R August 25, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I’m with Jamie, forget the appliance and use a mortar and pestle. My friend Narit worked in Oliveto’s in Rockridge and they make all their pesto by hand. I find my heavy stone one the best becasue you can really ground the basil with it but I do cut the leaves into little strips before that (chiffonade?),


Kendra April 24, 2012 at 10:44 pm

aaaahahahahha i’m so glad to have discovered your blog! i follow many a fancy food blog in hopes that one day i will be inspired to attempt a gastrique or a…something else with a fancy name…or for that matter even attempt to make something more than spaghetti or “stir fry” (loosely titled) but i always just end up drooling over the pictures and then just going out to buy a pint of ben and jerrys. thank you so much for sharing!!


Julie April 25, 2012 at 7:01 am

Hey Kendra! I’m glad you found me too! We less-than-Martha cooks gotta start banding together for warmth…and food. One of us must be able to cut an onion decently…

Seriously, Thanks for reading. There’s lots here to digest. Dig in…if you dare!


Sandi February 2, 2016 at 2:12 am

Dang, my basil didn’t grow for crap last summer, but my thyme is still going gangbusters even through several freezes.


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