In the Kitchen with Jackie — Making Pesto with What You’ve Got

Well, here we are, an unprecedented quarantine. I know we’re all handling the situation differently, but one thing we’ve all got to do is eat. Personally, I find the best way to cope with the countless unknowns is by keeping up with my regular tasks around the house. Meal planning and cooking is a large part of that, now more than ever!

I consider myself lucky that we regularly keep a well-stocked pantry and that we’ve been able to access a good amount of groceries during this time. However, lots of items have been out of stock, and in general, it seems like we’ve all got to work with what’s available. I’ve seen so much creativity in the kitchen these past weeks on social media! And it seems like a lot of folks that usually don’t cook are enjoying it too; gotta look for those silver linings, right? 

One challenge I’m facing is stretching out fresh produce and not letting ANYTHING go to waste. I started this post because I had half a bag of arugula that was beginning to look a little limp. Fresh pesto is my favorite way to make use of odds and ends as well as greens that are beginning to wilt.

You can use this guideline recipe and get inventive with what you’ve got on hand!


2 cups loosely packed greens – basil, arugula, baby spinach, peas, kale (blanch and cool it first)
2 cloves of garlic
½ cup of nuts – pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, pepitas
1 cup of grated hard cheese – parm, pecorino, piave, asiago
About 6 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

Mash it all up with a mortar and pestle – the traditional way – or blend everything together in a food processor. If you prefer a smoother texture, a food processor is the way to go.

For this iteration I used my sad bag of arugula, pepitas, and Parmigiano Reggiano. These measurements are really only a recommendation; if you blend everything up and it looks too thick, add more olive oil. If you’re not a fan of garlic, add one clove to start and add more to taste. If it’s bland try adding more cheese or a little salt.

This makes about four servings of pesto covered pasta. I used the Vera Pasta Lemon Caserecci which added a nice bright flavor to the fresh pesto. I also added some shavings of Belper Knolle for an extra peppery finish!

What’s your favorite kind of pesto?