Not So Perfect Pesto Made Perfect: From the Recipe Box

The spring after JEJ and I had met I was thrilled to check out the herbs that were coming up. I had only lived at my place for a year and was still working on identifying shrubs, trees, and flowers the former owners had planted. I don’t even know where the idea for making pesto had come from since I had only had it in a restaurant. Knowing me I probably saw the recipe in a magazine and thought it would be fun to try. I gathered up the basil, followed the recipe, and served up a new, fresh dish that I was sure would be a hit. Somewhere between the chopping of the basil and the adding of the olive oil something didn’t seem right. The smell of the basil wasn’t what I had remembered. “Oh, well,” I thought to myself,” It just must be because the basil is older.”
(Now for all of you seasoned gardeners… I am sure you have figured that something is wrong. Basil is not a perennial herb. Why would it be there from the year before?)

I finished preparing the pesto, cooked the pasta, heated up bread, and tossed a salad. I took my first bite and thought the pesto had an odd taste, but didn’t say anything. After JEJ took a few bites he glanced over by the sink and inquired,” Why do you have catnip in here? I didn’t think you even had cats.”

The rest is a blur. I don’t know if a spit out my pesto first or grabbed my future husband and had him do a little herb identification by the back step. Fortunately JEJ has a good sense of humor. Even today when we tell this story he always ends it with, “The only problem I had was figuring out what to do next. I felt like jumping in her lap and purring or scratching on a tree.”

Here is a great recipe for pesto. Please make sure to use basil!
This uncooked seasoning can be made in advance. Use on pasta or mix equal portions with butter for baked potatoes.
In a food processor bowl place:
1 ½ cups fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup pine nuts
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Pulse until the basil is chopped.
With the machine running , add ¾ cup olive oil.
Process until it is the consistency of creamed butter. Cover and refrigerate or freeze. Gardening tip: Basil is an annual herb with round, glossy leaves. Catnip has a narrower leaf, it comes up all over every year, the leaves have a faded green color and it smells like one of those catnip toys you buy for your feline friends.
Lily and Sweet William are waiting to know for sure which is really the catnip.


  1. catnip pesto--I love it! "Good for man and beast."

    My first pesto-making adventure I tried using dried basil, because that was all that was available in Minnesota in the (dating myself here) 70's. Of course it ended up looking like a big brown turd, not a nice green sauce.

  2. I laughted so hard at your husband's remark. . .he must have been smitten - or drugged. LOL!

    I haven't tried making pesto. I will heed Molly's post and forgo dried basil. LOL

  3. omg! that's hilarious!

  4. molly: what is it with pesto and disasters?

    pinehurst and jbelle: just picking the catnip for the picture today brought back that aroma of the pesto. LOL

  5. Yummy recipes and those kittens! Your blog is so ecclectic and fun to read -- I've joyfully added you to my 'extra credit reading.'
    p.s. My basil is doing well on my apt's little 3x5 concrete slab and can't wait for some pesto too!


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