Just Chop It Fresh and Easy Pesto

Certain foods are ubiquitous. One such food is Pesto. Of course you can buy jars of it in supermarkets and specialty food markets, but there is none to compare to what you make at home. Most pre-made pestos are too oily, too smooth without any character and with little flavor. One of the easiest things to make at home is pesto.  This is a version that doesn’t even call for a food processor. I just chopped it!

I want my pesto to have texture and lots of flavor. I want the olive oil to enhance the pesto, not be the main ingredient.  I often use greens other than basil such as kale or parsley. Hardly ever do I use pine nuts as I feel they are too oily. Walnuts, pecans, pistachios and pepitas are some of my favorite nuts to use. The constants in my pestos are good fresh garlic, the best olive oil I can afford and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Paired with a good short pasta noodle such as Campanelle, this pesto is divine and delicious.

First I smashed two garlic cloves using the flat side of my knife and then finely chopped them, adding toasted walnuts to my board and giving them a medium to fine chop together with the garlic. Grated parmesan was added and chopped into the garlic-walnut mix.

I harvested my first basil of the 2019 season and gave it a medium to fine chop as well. All the ingredients I then put into a bowl, adding a generous sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

All the ingredients I then drizzled with a good olive oil and smushed it all together with a wooden spatula.

I cooked some Campanelle noodles, topped them with a few spoonfuls of this chopped pesto. Bon Appetit.

Just Chop It Fresh and Easy Pesto


  • 2 large fresh garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano – 1 cup or more divided
  • 2 cups or more fresh basil leaves
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1 lb Campanelle pasta noodles or other short noodle


  1. Put a pot of water on to boil for the noodles.
  2. Meanwhile working on a cutting board, smash the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife and then chop. Add walnuts and give them a medium to fine chop along with the garlic. Every now and then smush it all with the side of you knife. This releases the oils from the garlic and walnuts.
  3. Add half of the grated Parmigiano and chop into the garlic-walnut mix and scrape all into a mixing bowl.
  4. On the same board chop the basil medium to fine and add to the bowl tossing with other ingredients. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle olive oil over all and toss together well. Taste and adjust to suit your palate.
  5. When you pasta water boils add the noodles and cook al dente. Drain well.
  6. Serve pasta topped with a generous serving of chopped pesto and more Parmigiano, sea salt and black pepper. Drizzle with additional olive oil if you like. Enjoy.

Teresa Blackburn.         http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com


“Kale, Kale, Beautiful Kale, Pesto”

kale leaf

Big beautiful bunches of Kale...Red Russian with its purplish-red stems & lacy tips, Lacinato Kale very sturdy with the deepest dark green color, and our old, familiar favorite, Curly Kale rather fluffy with white stems & veins all piled high and dewy fresh at the Nashville Farmer’s Market.

Like the “it girl”, Kale, is the “it green”…the green “of the moment”…the “if you own a restaurant in this century Kale is a must for your menu” green…unless you have been living under a rock or off-the-grid completely you know this…right? Right.

To celebrate the “it-ness” of Kale, it’s bounty, beauty and health benefits I came up with this oh-so-easy recipe for “Kale, Beautiful Kale, Pesto“.

Kale Pesto on Pasta

Here is all you will need:

1 bunch of Kale, rinsed & patted dry, middle stem trimmed out, leaves broken into bite-size pieces.

2 garlic cloves, 1 cup toasted walnuts, 1 cup shredded Gruyère Cheese, good olive oil, 1 lemon, sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, plus a chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano to grate over servings.

Kales Pesto Ingredients

Here is all you need to do:

1. Place garlic cloves & walnuts in a food processor fitted with the cutting blade. Pulse until nuts & garlic are chopped, but not too finely.

ground walnuts

2. Add Kale pieces, fresh lemon juice & sea salt to processor bowl. Pulse while adding about 1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil to mixture. Stop & scrape down bowl if you need to. Add Gruyère to the mix and pulse a few times to make a nice paste. Add more or less oil depending on how you like your pesto. I prefer a chunkier, less oily pesto.

lemon juice and Kale

Kale Pesto

3. Top a bowl of hot pasta with a dollop of Kale Pesto, grind some black pepper on top,  add some freshly grated Parmesan..and a glass of a crispy chilled wine. So far, so good October!

kale pesto

Get your “green” on….Eat more Kale, y’all.

Take a Holiday Break / Persimmon Walnut Tea Bread

No, these are not some new fangled Christmas ornament!  They are “Hachiya Persimmons” &  although they are certainly pretty enough to be Holiday ornaments, I have another plan for them.

“A Simple Persimmon Walnut Tea Bread for when you need to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the Holidays”

When I was a young girl I loved the persimmon fruit from a tree that grew wild at the edge of our yard. It was gangly, never-pruned, pretty much ignored tree that went unnoticed all year until sometime in mid-December when the persimmons would begin to ripen taking on a soft yellowy custard color. The fruit very lush, short-lived and much appreciated. I do not remember Mother ever using them in recipes. We just ate them off the tree like apples.

The “Hachiya” persimmons that have been in the markets lately are not local nor are they the type that grows wild in the South. These persimmons are vibrant red-orange and are very hard, not ready to be eaten. Recently I purchased 5 of these for a photo shoot. We did not use them so I brought them home to ripen in a bowl on the kitchen counter. I got busy and forgot about them for a few days and during this time they ripened to perfection. Curiously I bit into one and was rewarded with an incredibly lusciousness. If I had to describe the flavor I would say it was somewhat like a very ripe mango or papaya or mamay crossed with a banana?

“Hachiya Persimmons”

My tea bread version is adapted from a recipe in Tammy Algood’s mangum opus to Southern cooking, “The Complete Southern Cookbook”.

“A Simple Persimmon Walnut Tea Bread”


1 1/2 sticks of butter softened (I used Kerrygold)

1/2 cup Sorghum or Molasses

2 eggs

1 cup Persimmon pulp from very ripe persimmons (core, peel & puree pulp in processor)

2 cups all purpose flour mixed with 1/2 cup ground flax seed & 2 tsp baking powder

1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries

1/4 cup turbinado or raw sugar


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease & flour a loaf pan.

2. In a bowl combine the flour, ground flax seed, baking powder mixture with the walnuts & dried cranberries. Set aside.

3.  Using an electric mixer cream the butter & sorghum together. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.

4. Stir in the persimmon pulp until well blended.

5. Add the egg-persimmon mixture to the flour mixture stirring just to combine. Scrape batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle top with a 1/4 cup turbinado or raw sugar to add crunch.

6. Bake for about 1 hour or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick or skewer inserted into the middle of the bread comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and continue to cool on wire rack.

7. This bread is best served warm or toasted along side a cup of tea or hot milky coffee when you need to sit down, take a break and a deep breath and relax for a  bit. Happy Holidays.

“A Little Holiday Image Gallery”

Little Figurines from Sweden
Amaryllis & Orchid
Food Magazine Paper Chain
Little Glitter House
Squirrel Nutcracker
“Know when enough is enough!” homemade  gift tag from recycled Holiday catalogs.
“Santa Claus with Beer” image from the Santa Pub, Nashville, TN…..don’t forget the cookies!

Enjoy. Share. Keep it Light. Be Helpful……..