Cooking From the Hip ~ Pesto

I have a confession to make: While I do enjoy cooking, I despise trying to decide what to make for dinner.

I go online, read cookbooks, watch Food Network; but usually, I come up with nothing.

To make matters worse, my family expects food EVERY DAY! What is up with that?

One of my only saving graces (other than take out) is when our garden starts to come in season. But alas, my husband got a late start this year; so the only edible plants I have right now are herbs and raspberries.

Last week, as I sat staring at my flourishing basil plants, it finally came to me…. Pesto!

Mammoth and Lemon Basils

There are SO many uses for pesto: sandwich spread, sauce starter, soup additive, appetizer helper and my fave…. Pasta!

After a quick trip to the Farmer’s Market for some seasonal squashes (obviously THEY planted on time), I ended up with this dinner!

Penne Pesto with Grilled Veggies and Chicken
(Serves 8)

Making the Pesto

Pesto Sauce:

  • 1 cup packed basil (I used a 60%-40% ratio of Mammoth and Lemon basils)
  • 1/3 cup almonds, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • olive oil

Place first 4 ingredients into food processor and process finely. Starting with 1/4 cup, drizzle in oil until desired consistency is reached.

Easy, huh? You can also make it and freeze it for future use.

Grilled Veggies:

  • pattypan squash
  • zucchini
  • Vidalia onions
  • bell peppers, (I used green and purple)
  • Portobello mushroom caps
  • garlic cloves, whole and peeled
  • and anything else you might like***

Slice veggies into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Use a grill ~ or a grill pan on the stove. Keep an eye on your grill lines and turn the veggies a quarter turn to get the cross lines. Cook until just tender.  (Yes, garlic cloves grill up beautifully in a pan; just toss them in and let them get golden and translucent; they will be slightly sweet and oh so good!)

Grilled Veggies, standing by for Pasta and Pesto!

***While I can tell you what I used, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to use what you like. If it looks good, go for it! And, if you’re feeling adventurous, don’t be afraid to try something new. The worst that can happen is that you hate it and you never buy it or make it again!

NOTE:  You can make the veggies early and put them in a pan. Cover with foil and reheat (covered) at 350° for about 30 minutes.

Putting It Together:
Boil 16 oz of your favorite pasta according to package directions, toss with the pesto (check to see if it needs a bit more olive oil at this point) and top with the veggies.

I added some grilled chicken for my meat eaters and some coarsely shredded parmesan cheese.

Penne Pesto with Grilled Veggies and Chicken is served!

A gorgeous white wine, and some home made bread for good measure, and dinner was done! For that night anyway….


Gabrielle Howle, Domestic Chef and Baker

Gabrielle is a domestic chef and baker with 17 years experience. Her usual patrons are her husband and three children (and occasionally the dog when she is less than careful about dropping things).

She collects BareEscentuals make-up and has a penchant for bright shiny objects, be it jewelry or new kitchen knives. Her biggest downfall is a new cheesecake recipe.

In her spare time, Gabrielle enjoys making jewelry, mixing martinis, shopping and spending time at the gun range. But never all at the same time!


  1. Miss Chievous says

    That pesto looks so good!! And what’s wrong with making jewelry at the gun range with a martini close at hand??

  2. Huh? says

    That looks quite tasty! Do you think pine nuts would work in place of the almonds?

  3. tiggermama says

    wahoo!!! i LOOOOOOVE pesto!! now, i just wish the kids were home because Mr. Umbrella refuses to eat it. . .

  4. Gabrielle says

    @ Miss Chievous- I know, right? Those pesky Federal laws…

    @ Huh?- Absolutely. Pine nuts are the usual addition to pesto. It’s just I never have them around. Almonds and walnuts are regulars in my pantry. (If you visited more often you’d know that!)

    @ tiggermama- If he likes alfredo sauce, you could either make his plate with alfredo or add the pesto TO the alfredo. You’ll get the wonderful herbs and flavor and he’ll get the creamy cheesiness!

  5. Cat says

    Looks delicious, and all I’d have to do is omit the chicken! I love easily vegetarianizable recipes. Yes, that is a word. I typed it, so it must be.

  6. Gabrielle says

    @ Cat-I love your word! Perhaps I should use it in the future!!

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