Staying classy on a budget: Pesto sauce, flavor power move

This chef recommends preparing sauce in advance for classy dinner



Top: Your ingredients may vary depending on your dish, whether it be pasta, pizza, sandwiches, etc. Bottom: The pesto’s texture and color will vary, but it’s important to take your time when adding ingredients.

LUKE HOLLISTER, Evergreen assistant photo editor

Making a pesto is a pushing and pulling of textures. You can make the sauce rough or smooth by how much cheese or oil you add. What you are having the pesto with will change how you want your sauce. If it’s a pizza, I add less cheese — I do not want the flavor to be overwhelming. If I am throwing it in with fettuccini, I prefer lots of flavor. The measurements of ingredients are just suggestions. There is no right or wrong, just what looks and feels best. Pesto, to me, has always been relaxing and helped me look inwardly at the direction I am heading in life. Making this pesto a day in advance is a good way to have a quick and classy dinner the following evening.

Serving Size: 4-6

Prep: 30-40 minutes

Approximate cost: $14


No more than 1/2 cup of shredded asiago cheese

2 cups of fresh basil leaves (use winter savory if you can find it)

2 tablespoons pine nuts

Roughly 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil or just until it looks good to you

2-3 cloves of garlic

Some salt

Your ingredients may vary depending on your dish, whether it be pasta, pizza, sandwiches, etc.

Get to cookin’:

  1. Peel and toss: Peel the skins off your garlic cloves and toss them in your processor. The easiest way to do this is by crushing the garlic and then peeling its skin.
  2. Blend, Pt. 1: Throw in your pine nuts and garlic. Mix for about 10 seconds. It is important to take the lid off after and smell the lovely garlic aroma. It always gets me hyped and puts my taste buds on track for a pesto. Blend pt. 2: Destem your basil leaves and add them to the mix. Try to think about how your actions have brought you to your current state in life. If you are feeling lazy or get lost in your thoughts and accidently get a little bit of stem in it, everything will still be fine. Next, pour in about half your oil and blend. I am suggesting half so you can get an idea how the oil affects your pesto. Add more oil until it looks smooth to your liking. I like to keep about 1-2 tablespoons aside to add after the cheese.
  1. Grate and add: Grate about 1/3 cup of your Asiago cheese with passion. If you do not have a grater (like me) then chop the cheese into tiny cubes and add slightly less. Be aware that the quality of your cheese you purchase dramatically affects the flavor of your pesto. Mix the cheese and keep adding more until the sauce tastes the way you want it to. If the pesto feels weak then you need more cheese. Be sure to take your time when combining ingredients, just like you would with important decisions in life.
  2. Texture and flavor correction: Add your remaining oil accordingly. Sprinkle in some salt to taste. For pastas I sometimes add in a little heavy whipping cream, especially if I am using winter savory, at least until the pesto is a lighter green color. It gives you more sauce and depth in flavor.
  3. Serve: By this stage, your sauce should have come together, hopefully in a way that makes you happy and probably different than you imagined. Sometimes you have to lose your way to find yourself. Feel free to add pestos with appetizers, open face sandwiches, pizzas and, of course, pastas.