Almond Pesto

Last week, I looked in the fridge and discovered that it was very full of half-full things. So we decided to not buy groceries last week. For real! We had leftover veggies of various kinds, tons of pasta, a few cube steaks, and some other stuff. We had milk, cream, butter and eggs, and all the dry staples. And you know what? We totally made it with no trouble at all. At the end of the week, our fridge was much emptier, and our cupboards were too. It was very refreshing, and a good way to avoid being wasteful.

One of the dishes born of the week of no new groceries was this almond pesto. We had a few cloves of garlic left, tons of dry pasta and of course plenty of olive oil. We tend to keep a lot of nuts and seeds on hand, but we were out of everything that could conceivably be pesto except the almonds – which turned out to be delicious! I also have been very protective of my basil plants up until now, but I think they finally are big enough that I don’t fear killing them when I cut a cup of leaves or so. So I tossed some fettucine with a little bit of the pasta water, a chopped, fresh tomato, some chunks of fresh mozzarella and a generous helping of this pesto.

Since that day, I have also used this pesto on tomato/mayo sandwiches for lunch and with mozzarella and more tomatoes for a “grown up grilled cheese,” which my college roommates know was one of my favorite things ever (holla, Pamcakes, Libby and Karen!). We had this amazing tradition that kept us eating good food at home four nights a week – basically, we each took one day of Monday-Thursday and cooked for the four of us. That way during the week, we only had to worry about cooking dinner once. It was basically the best ever. I miss you guys! <3

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (to taste)
  • 2/3 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. coarse salt (kosher, sea, etc.)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil – start with the 1/4 cup and add to get your preferred consistency

The prep here is pretty easy. Wash your basil thoroughly and add it to your food processor. Follow with the almonds, parm, garlic and salt. Puree until a thick paste. Then start adding in the olive oil – you will probably need to scrape down the sides of the bowl to get the basil paste back in blade territory.

Add 1/4 cup first, and then see where that gets you as far as consistency. I am pretty sure I ended up adding a full 1/2 cup.

Salt will be another issue – I don’t know if it’s because of the way almonds taste, or what, but I ended up adding a lot of salt to this – probably the full half teaspoon. When you get it to the right consistency, taste it, and adjust if you need. Only add salt a little bit at a time, though. It’s much easier to over-salt than it is to over-olive oil.


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