When I first made pesto my husband was skeptical. He asked what I planned to do with it. I told him I was going to boil some pasta and grill some chicken breasts. I planned to cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and toss with the pesto and the pasta.
Doesn’t that sound good? He wrinkled his nose and declared “I don’t think that will be good.” When I started mentioning the peanut butter available for this consumption, he quietly left the kitchen.
Of course, you can probably see where this tale is going: he loved it. It was, I must admit, even better than I imagined it would be.
I wish I made it more often, actually. It’s so easy. The big problem is that when not in season, the price of basil approaches the gold standard. Then there is the whole cleaning the basil, which can be a bit of pain. But still, if you have a food processor you can whip up a good pesto in 10 minutes.
The recipe I like best is from the Joy of Cooking, a book I highly recommend owning. I happened to be working at Simon & Schuster when the new version came out in 1997 (The predictable marketing line: “It’s a whole new Joy.”), so I got mine the way all good publishing slaves do: by requisitioning myself a copy.
Still, it’s worth buying. It’s my go-to book when I think, “I’m in the mood for chili.” When you want a classic recipe with no BS, you want Joy. The recipes are easy to follow and I’ve never had one fail. Unlike a certain domestic doyenne who’s published recipes seem to flop more often than succeed.
Yes, Martha, I’m talking about you.