Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rick Bayless' Pesto

This is one of my favorite cookbooks--it kind of straddles the kid/grownup cookbook because although Rick Bayless cooks with his teen daughter Lanie, there's not a fruit kabob or bagel faces recipe to be found. Praise be!

My favorite pesto comes from this cookbook--it's good for kids because the cream cheese mellows out the strong basil flavor.

Bayless Family Pasta with Pesto
1/4 c. pine nuts or walnuts
3 garlic cloves
2 c. fresh basil leaves
1/4 c. lemon balm, optional
1/3 c. olive oil
1/4 c. cream cheese or fresh goat cheese
1 Tbsp. lime or lemon juice
1 lb. dried pasta
1/2 to 3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1. Scoop nuts into a small skillet. Set over medium heat. Stir until nuts release toasty aroma into kitchen, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let nuts cool.
2. Place peeled garlic in microwave-safe cup and barely cover with water. Microwave on high power for 1 minute. Scoop garlic out of water with spoon. Allow to cool.

3. In a food processor, combine cooled toasted nuts, basil leaves, lemon balm if desired, olive oil, cream cheese, lemon juice and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cut each garlic clove into 3 pieces and add to processor. Secure lid. Pulse 5 or 6 times, then run machine until mixture is smooth--about 1 minute. Leave pesto in food processor.
4. Boil pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Pour reserved pasta water into food processor and turn on to thin the
pesto. Mix pesto with pasta. Sprinkle on half of the grated Parmesan. Divide onto plates and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Serves 4 as a main course.

Lucky me, to have a Dad who keeps me supplied with fresh lemon juice from his tree.


  1. I have always wanted a lemon tree- how convenient is that?? Sadly we are not in a good climate for that, which is sad since I am making lemonade all the time right now.

  2. I like the sound of this recipe, in the summer hot heavy meals just don't seem as appetizing as they do in the cold of winter. It's also great to have a nice vegetarian dish to add to my recipe collection. :)

  3. Rick Bayless is my all-time favorite chef. Have you ever been to any of his restaurants?

  4. Ahhh... I love Rick Bayless. This recipe sounds delicious as well, especially with the cream cheese! I might have to try it. Sea Marie

  5. Yum! I need to try this! We have so much basil in our garden and make pesto at least once a week.