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Julie Kelly's Blog

It’s that time of the season when the little basil plant you purchased a month ago now threatens to overtake your patio and make the side of your house look like the outfield wall at Wrigley Field. Making pesto is a great way to use abundant herbs like basil. Like so many yummy sauces, pesto originated in Italy and is the essence of simplistic, authentic cooking. By incorporating just a few basic ingredients like herbs, cheese, nuts and olive oil, you can create a flavor-packed mixture with endless culinary purposes. While basil pesto is the most popular version, you can experiment with other herbs and greens such as mint, spinach and arugula.

 

A batch of pesto can complement a variety of preparations from appetizers to vegetables to entrées:

  • Serve pesto with a wedge of cheese, olives, prosciutto and crackers for a perfect cocktail hour(s) hors d’oeuvre;
  • Smear a small amount of pesto on grilled fish or chicken for an added flavor boost;
  • Use in pasta dishes instead of standard red sauce;
  • Mix with mayonnaise to create a pesto salad dressing;
  • Drizzle over vegetables like steamed asparagus, grilled zucchini, roasted new potatoes or freshly sliced tomatoes;
  • Here’s my new favorite summertime “bite”: Scoop out the center of cherry tomatoes and salt lightly. Slice in half several small, fresh mozzarella balls and stuff one half into each tomato. Top with a small dollop of fresh pesto for a delicious and easy appetizer.

Make plenty of pesto and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. The following recipe is for a summertime pasta dish that can be served either as a dinner entrée or a unique pasta salad at room temperature.

Click Here For Recipe

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"Julie, I really enjoyed your class and took way more away than I ever thought I would. I never in a million years thought a cooking class would make me excited to try new things!! So my hat's off to you. You are a great teacher and the recipes are so good!" 

 

Susie C., Orland Park