Seasonal Flavors: Pandemic Pesto

Pandemic pesto on toast. Photo: Denize Zito.

Well, friends, here we are. If you haven’t spent much time cooking in the past, it’s time to learn. And to avoid unnecessary trips from home, it’s time to improvise.

I decided that I wanted pizza. And what I really like on pizza is pesto, broccoli and anchovies. I had the latter two, but no pesto. No pesto, you ask? Denise, don’t you make lots and freeze it when the basil is plentiful?

Actually, I don’t. Frozen pesto holds no allure for me. It turns black and loses so much of its flavor, so I stopped freezing pesto years ago.

Now it’s April. I have no basil except for my little windowsill plant. I have no parmesan (bad planning on my part). I have no pine nuts.

My improv: I used frozen broccoli (thawed first), added the oil, and used fontinella cheese that I had purchased on my last trip to Pittsburgh. Then I dug through my cupboard and found a handful of slivered almonds and some pecans. Luckily, I grew lots and lots of garlic, so I’ll never run out of garlic.

I also had some Romano cheese, which I used atop the pizza. John must have tomato, so I opened my very last pint that I had put up last fall, and crushed some tomatoes on his half of the pizza.

So please—improvise, use what you have—make delicious meals to break the monotony.  Stay safe, all! 

Pandemic Pesto

  • 2 cups, thawed frozen broccoli
  • ½ cup grated, hard cheese *
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup of nuts—whatever you have will work
  • 4-5 cloves of crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp salt

*I used fontinella, similar to fontina, but made in the U.S.; it’s a wonderful Italian-type cheese that I seem to find only in Pennsylvania. Use what you have)

Add all ingredients to the mini food processor or blender and blend till smooth. Serve on pizza or pasta. We had the leftovers the next day, spread on homemade toasted bread—it was sooo good.

Pandemic pesto on toast. Photo: Denize Zito.


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