The Easiest End Of Summer Pasta

What to do with all that basil growing limp by the minute in your window box? Just whip up this easy-peasy pesto.
When I was a kid, my parents used to grow basil in our garden out back. Every night in the summer, my Mom would send me out in the yard with a measuring cup and tell me to fill it to the brim with basil. Sighs, foot stomps and eye rolling ensued; nothing annoyed me more. There were Encyclopedia Brown books to read, episodes of “Family Ties” to watch, lanyard bracelets to braid, boys to prank call. But post-dinner, it was hard to remember exactly why I put up such a fuss. My Mom made the most amazing pesto, and I always devoured at least two bowls slathered on top of a mountain of buttery pasta.


And history, of course, repeats itself. Now I have two kids, and I grow tons of basil on my patio, and every night after work I send them out there to bring me back handfuls. Naturally they grumble. My daughters are two and five; there are about 204 other things they’d rather do than pick herbs from their mama’s makeshift garden. But once I have them standing on step stools over the Vitamix, adding glugs of olive oils to the fragrant green leaves, chunks of parmesan, sprinkles of salts and pine nuts then watching the mixture whiz up into delicious green goo, they’re whistling another tune altogether. Served on top of grilled chicken, mixed with pasta and fresh tomatoes, or served as a side dip with roasted carrots, cauliflower and hunks of hard cheese, this salty, garlicky, herbalicious dressing is a crowd pleaser any way you look at it. Best to make a bunch now and freeze it as Fall and Winter is upon us! You and your little ones won’t regret it.


Below, Chef Deena’s foolproof recipe for the world’s yummiest pesto.


Two cups basil leaves Two cloves garlic
⅓ cup olive oil
⅛ cup nuts (pine nuts, pistachios or walnuts)
Himalayan sea salt
⅛ cup Parmesan cheese (for vegans, use two teaspoons nutritional yeast)


Mix in food processor.
Add to your favorite pasta or to raw spiraled zucchini noodles
(Optional: add roasted heirloom tomatoes + shallots or sautéed mushrooms + broccoli or feta cheese +  fresh herbs )


Pic by Mikey Neff