The CSA Chronicles: Presto, Pesto!

About the author: Jolene Howard (left) is a Tribeca resident, Southern transplant, mother of a turnip-eating two year old, full-time marketer, and part-time author of citybaby :: a blog about baby food.

I’ve been very limited in the kitchen for the past week because there was a gas leak in our building’s basement and our gas has been—and is still—off. Necessity is the mother of invention, and given the circumstances, it should come as no surprise that my narrative covering what I did with my pickup from last week’s CSA involves no cooking!
Let’s cover the basics first. My Wednesday wagon was filled with the following organic items from Katchkie Farm:
• Radishes
• A very large bag of baby salad greens
• Basil
• Kale
• Broccoli
• Summer squash
• Baby beets (I can’t wait to roast them because the skin is edible)

Something I don’t do often enough when I have a bunch of basil is make pesto. It’s so easy, it requires minimal ingredients and no cooking, and if you make too much, you can freeze it.

All of those conditions—paired with my current no-cook zone—motivated me to break out my favorite recipe for basil pesto. I froze my entire batch, but if you make this, share your results and tell me what type of pasta you tossed with your farm-fresh pesto.

1. Wash one large bunch of fresh basil. Herbs tend to be sandy so but your basil in a colander, immerse the basil in a pot of cold water, and let the sand fall to the bottom. Remove, and repeat until your water is clean. No one wants sandy pesto.

2. Remove leaves from stems. Let the leaves dry for a few minutes on a clean dish towel. The good news is, you’re done with the two most difficult steps!

3. Smash one clove of garlic with the flat end of a chef’s knife. Combine all of the basil with the smashed garlic, a generous pinch of sea salt and a pinch of red-pepper flakes. Transfer the basil mixture to the bowl of a large food processor and add 1/4 cup of slivered almonds or whole pine nuts.

4. Lock the food processor and start to pulse, pouring a small amount of olive oil into the top of the food processor as you blend. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add more olive oil to reach the consistency you like.

5. Reserve a quantity of your pesto for immediate use. One-quarter cup will suffice to toss with a large bowl of spaghetti or bow-tie pasta. Freeze the remaining pesto in single-serving sizes, using freezer bags. Freezing small amounts will make it easier when it comes time to use it.

6. Add 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan-Romano mix to your fresh pesto and toss with warm pasta. This dish can be served hot or cold. I like to add halved cherry tomatoes to mine.

Note: I don’t freeze pesto mixed with cheese because the cheese may absorb freezer flavors and yield disappointing results. (I write a “add cheese!” note plus the date that I made the pesto on the freezer bag so I won’t forget.)

Previous CSA Chronicles:
• Deep Greens



  1. Sounds delish!! I have not tried my own pesto….but I sure will give it a try now :) Thanks

  2. Jolene, What a PRETTY, girl. I sent it to Tracy, say hi to Brian, and kiss the baby!!! Dave