a blog by Felisa Rogers

Felisa Rogers

Felisa Rogers
December 16
Generally, I'd rather be reading. But I am fond of arguing about dead presidents, driving vans around Mexico, and cooking. I try to create places and times that make you believe, just for a moment, that people aren't terrible and the world isn't a ghastly place.


AUGUST 2, 2010 1:11AM

Summer Pesto

Rate: 5 Flag


In winter, I'll happily spend an afternoon in the kitchen fussing over a beef stew or a spaghetti sauce, but sweltering summer weather calls for  recipes that don't require hours slaving over the proverbial hot stove. Happily, quick recipes also capitalize on the fresh flavors of summer's in-season ingredients. 

I first ate this pasta dish in the garden of fabulously bombastic and talented family friend Julie Daniel (aka She Who Must be Worshiped and Adored) on a summer evening in Eugene, Oregon. The fresh, aromatic pesto seemed the perfect thing in the leafy shadows of Julie's yard. I was in my late teens and not particularly obsessed with cooking, but having been coached by my dad in the fine art of making cooks feel appreciated, I asked her about the recipe anyway. She explained the process in typically straightforward terms, made charming by her slight British accent and impeccable sense of humor. Years later the meal still lingered in my mind, and I eventually created my own facsimile. While pesto is a useful staple year round, this recipe really only works for July, August, and September, when tomatoes are actually edible raw. The decadence of Parmesan, pine nuts, and olive oil is sideswiped by the fresh taste of summer tomatoes; the end result is satisfying, yet not overly heavy. To to truly celebrate the ephemeral graciousness of summer evening, eat outside in the shade or on the porch.

Summer Pesto

prep time: 15 minutes

stove time: 8 minutes


for pesto sauce:

1 clove of garlic

1/2 cup of  Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup of olive oil

1/4 cup of pine nuts

2 cups of fresh basil leaves

salt to taste


pot of water

3 fresh tomatoes (chopped)

1 head of broccoli (separated into 1 inch florets)

1 package of pasta, preferably farfalle or penne

dash of salt

dash of olive oil

pepper to taste

1. Put water to boil for pasta. Add dash of salt and olive oil.

2. Add pesto ingredients to blender and blend until ingredients are thoroughly mixed. 

3. Add pasta to boiling water. When pasta is about 1 minute from being done, add broccoli. Cook for 1 minute or less.

4. Drain pasta and broccoli and put both into salad bowl. Add pesto sauce.  Depending on how rich you like your meals, you may want to store some of the sauce for later.

5. Add chopped tomatoes to bowl and stir gently. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

6. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and pepper.

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I LOVE HM pesto. People think it is so hard. So easy, so awsome, so good for you with olive oil. I have a small food processor that never sees anything else. I will try your version. r
When I have a big garden i make lots of pesto in big batches, then freeze what I can't eat right away in ice cube trays, then bag the cubes with he air squeezed out for a quick and easy dash of flavor over the winter.

You can make a good pesto out of any strongly flavored green. Try arugula!
Homemade pesto with pasta -- food of the gods! I love it. I do the same thing David does -- make huge batches, freeze in ice cube trays, and eat it year-round. It's great to just throw a cube or two into one of those long-simmered winter tomato sauces or even pizza sauce. But you're right, in the summer, when tomatoes are ripe, it's perfect with pasta. Yum. I might have to make this this week...
I have a bumper basil crop this year - I'm definitely making this!
Thanks, Felisa! I saw that there was basil for sale already at the farmers' market. I'll try this.
I'm definitely trying the arugula idea--Do you alter the other ingredients in any way to accommodate for the bite of arugula? And the ice cubes sound like a great idea...And H,M: thanks for re-affirming my belief that anything with olive oil in it is good for you!
I'm not a tomato grower, but I can handle a basil plant. Can't wait for the second harvest of basil so I can try this recipe. Arugula is also one of my favorite flavors.
Time for a pesto party!