Great, Simple, Pesto

We had our friends, Dan and Janci Farwell, over for dinner the other night.  After some go around about whether or not Janci eats fish (it turns out she does but that she doesn’t like Shellfish.  I don’t think this is really ‘outing’ her so I’m leaving this whole tangent in here unedited …  Living on the wild side!), we decided to have grilled Salmon for dinner.

The next step was figuring out how to make it special.  I’ve made Salmon many different ways.  The other night I made it and made a sauce with leeks, english peas, white wine, a little lemon and light cream that was really good.  On this day I thought about doing the same but decided I’d rather not deal with trying to park at Trader Joes so I could run in and pick up leeks and english peas.  Hmmm.. What to sauce the Salmon with?

Whenever I’m at a loss I find the nearest cookbook or Bon Appetit and flip through it for inspiration.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  On this day I saw a restaurant review that mentioned Salmon with a pesto sauce.  Brilliant!  I had everything I needed.  Off to the races.

Never start a race unless you know you have what it takes to finish.

I had two of the three ingredients I needed.  I had Basil and I had Garlic.  However, my stash of frozen Pine Nuts was inexplicably missing from the freezer.  (Pine nuts left in your pantry will go rancid quickly so if you want to save them, freeze them).  Curiously, it had been replaced by someone’s stash of Thin Mints.  Thin Mints won’t work in Pesto.  I thought about the Chefs on Chopped and decided I was not one of them.  I could not make garlic, basil and Thin Mints into a sauce.  So, now I was off to the store to buy pine nuts.  (I should add that once in the car I briefly thought about going to Trader Joes to get leeks and english peas but I ruled that out when a light turned red.)

When I laid the Salmon down face down on the grill Dan was very skeptical that I would be able to turn it.  When I did he dropped to his knees and kissed my ring.  (this may or may not be an exaggeration).  I divulge this trick in another recipe involving grilling Salmon here on the blog but suffice it to say that when you do it your friends will be impressed.

Now the pesto sauce … Yum.


  • 2 Ounces Fresh Basil leaves.  (You cannot use dried for this recipe).
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 10 Garlic Cloves or Two-Three TBs crushed garlic
  • 1/4 cup very fresh extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all of these ingredients in a food processor (17,000 italian chefs just rolled over in their graves because you are supposed to use a mortar and pestle.  However if one is not handy or you simply want to go faster just use your food processor – the blender looking thingy with the REALLY sharp blade.  No one can see those guys turning over in their graves anyway!).  Anyway, combine all ingredients in the food processor and pulse until everything is finely chopped – but not paste.  Taste it and add salt and pepper until you like it.  Try not to eat it all.  You’ll have to go back to the market.

During the last five minutes of cooking the Salmon (use the recipe elsewhere on the blog for cooking the fish) spoon the pesto onto the top of the fish.  Serve immediately with extra pesto on the side.  Receive the adoring accolades from your guests with grace.


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