How to Improvise Pesto

I have been posting a lot about pesto lately, and that’s because with a beautiful basil plant outside, I’ve been making a lot of it. That was basically the plan when planting pesto earlier this spring. There are other great uses for fresh basil, but let’s be honest… pesto is one of the best-tasting things in the entire universe. And nothing makes me immediately starving like the smell of fresh basil.

We made some last weekend and plopped it onto grilled pizza by the spoonful.

Since that delicious, leisurely, two-bottles-of-wine dinner (among a GROUP, thank you! :) ), it has been a very, very busy and tough week at work. I love my job and my coworkers, but when it is the 100th anniversary of your organization, it’s bound to be a busy year. My boss and I sometimes joke about what we’ll be up to at this time in 2013, sipping lattes and brainstorming excellent projects that we can carry out because we’ll have so much free time. We’ll see :)

After being at work from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, I came home of course very tired and not wanting to cook anything too crazy. Dave was working late doing important things. So I made some pesto, and threw in tomatoes and cheese. The ultimate comfort food. There was even enough for lunch for Dave and I tomorrow.

Since I’ve started making pesto so frequently, the recipe has never been the same twice. I’ve used so many different types of nuts, and basically started eyeballing the amount of oil. I think I have it broken down into a pretty simple ratio:

This is what I do basically every time. Depending on the project, you can always play with it. Add a little bit of sesame or truffle oil for a richer flavor. Add a little lemon juice for a brighter one.

The beautiful thing about making pesto is that it is a blank canvas for you to be creative. Just stick to a few simple guidelines to get that thick paste texture that will easily mix into pasta, work as a spread on sandwiches or crostini, or dollop onto a slice of pizza.


  1. I want to eat that pasta right now for breakfast! This is GREAT post!

    Comment by Missy — July 25, 2012 @ 9:34 am

  2. Awesome graphic, and a good guideline to allow for substitution. I made Italian parsley pesto last summer that was a bit of a fail, flavor-wise; my proportions weren’t quite right. I just Pinned it to my pizza board.

    Comment by Maggie — July 25, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

  3. I love that graphic! I’d like to make a little laminated print out of that to keep in my recipe box.

    Comment by Mary — July 26, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

  4. […] How to Improvise Pesto […]

    Pingback by Easy Balsamic Pesto Bruschetta « PDXfoodlove — July 27, 2012 @ 7:00 am

  5. […] now that you know the formula for pesto, why not jazz things up a […]

    Pingback by Abracadabra and…Pesto! | Wine and Chisme — February 10, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

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