Thursday, March 20, 2014


Pesto is one of those godsend products that can solve any meal with minimal effort. Just slap it on pasta or other grain/starch products (farro and quinoa especially), add it to a bland soup, serve it on potatoes, or mix it in a frittata, and you'll have a perfectly delicious dish that tastes fresh, luscious, and complex.

Of course, it all depends on the quality on the pesto. If you are a proud inhabitant of Liguria, where pesto is from, you can just make it fresh whenever you want, and it will taste better than any other pesto forever and ever. If you are not from Liguria but are still a better person than most, you can pound together basil, Parmigiano, pecorino, pine nuts, extra-virgin olive oil and garlic with a pestle and mortar right in time for lunch and still have time to look down your nose on the rest of the world. However, if you are anything like me, you're more than happy to buy some ready-made pesto to keep in the fridge to use when you feel lazy, but not lazy enough to eat cold leftovers from last month's brunch with friends.

"100% Imported Italian Basil D.O.P." and other ingredients. Wait...

So let me make my first product recommendation in this blog, starting with a pesto that is not painfully expensive and that tastes pretty damn Italian. I'm talking about Kirkland Basil Pesto sold at Costco in 22-oz jars for $9.40. The ingredient list is pretty good for commercial pesto, with Genovese basil, extra-virgin olive oil, Parmigiano, and pine nuts in the mix. Yes, there is sunflower oil and other strange stuff, but I have to confess that most commercial pesto in Italy uses plenty of shortcuts, replacing extra-virgin olive oil with safflower oil, pine nuts with walnuts or cashews, and adding extra weirdness such as powdered milk, margarine, palm oil, and dehydrated potatoes.

I've had a few guests from Italy in recent months, and they all loved the pesto and its price. One guest went back home with a jar, and another, daughter of a true Genovese, asked me to buy it again for the next time she'll come visit. The jar is pretty huge, so you might want to try to freeze it in cubes so you can make sure you use it all. As for my family, we go through 22 oz. quickly and without any problems. It's the overwhelmed-work-at-home mother's best friend.

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