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Presto Pesto on the Cheap

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I’ve been loving pesto lately! Fresh basil is one of those really expensive items at the grocery store. Now that we have a porch for the first time in a long time, we picked up 2 basil plants near the end of the season for cheap, and they’ve been growing like wild ever since!

This is how I make pesto, with a few substitutions from the norm to account for ingredients I’m more likely to have on hand. It also saves money and adds even more nutrition/lower fat by adding kale in for some of the basil, cutting the olive oil with water, and substituting raw almonds for those delicious but pricey pine nuts!


  • pasta of your choice (I usually like whole wheat rotini or a rice pasta if you want to be gluten free, but in this case I found linguini on sale)
  • cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • fresh mozzarella and/or shredded parmesan/romano or all of the above!
  • Optional: Green Onion, Kalamata olives, other…
  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced
  • a handful of fresh basil, rinsed
  • 1-2 large kale leaves, rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • water
  • 1/4 cup raw, unsalted almonds
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Boil a pot of water. Add pasta with a dash of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Cook until al dente.

Dice onion and 1 of the garlic cloves. Sautee over low heat in olive oil or butter until they are a soft, golden brown.

For the pesto sauce: Either chop up all ingredients as small as possible if you are using a blender, or use a food processor or “bullet” to make the pesto.

Combine equal parts water and olive oil along with your basil, kale, 1 clove of garlic, almonds, and salt and pepper to taste. I don’t have exact measurements here so that you can make the quantity you want. Just put all the dry ingredients in and then add equal parts water and olive oil until you get a smooth slurry in your blender or food processor.

Drain your pasta and hit it briefly with a splash of cold water to stop it from cooking. Toss the pasta in the pesto sauce, plate it, and then add your other toppings including cheese, quartered cherry tomatoes, sautéed onions & garlic, and anything else you desire such as chopped green onion, Kalamata olives, etc.


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