Pissed About Pesto


You know what gets my goat? Pesto. I LOVE it. But it photographs like poop on a plate. Seriously … look at this:

"Where'd the birds go?" "What birds?" "The birds who pooped on my dinner."

The truth is, it’s not pesto’s fault. It’s MY fault. Or rather, my lack of proper camera equipment. The point-and-shoot-me-in-the-face camera I’ve been using since the beginning of Kitchen Mischief has always given me fits. I’ve never been happy about my food pics.

Matthew’s always look SO nice. I’ll admit openly and freely that I am always jealous of his shots. I tell myself it’s not because he’s that much better at plating than me. OK, so maybe he is a little more deliberate, patient, artistic, and skilled. But I tell myself it’s because he has a “Big Boy” fancy camera to shoot with. Here lately, even my point-n-shoot has died, reducing me to chronicling my culinary catastrophes with David’s Droid camera, which captured that lovely shot above.

But the Dogfood Days are over, my friends! In order to properly document our trip to Italy, Captain Brothers purchased the camera he’s been lusting after for years, a Nikon something-something numbers and letters (I don’t know, it’s supposed to be good). I’m not bragging — just thrilled that I will no longer have to hurl spicy profanity at his cell phone camera. Or … should I be terrified? What if my food really is just ugly? Oh well, I guess we’ll see!

In the meantime, let’s enjoy one more post full of sad, grainy, dim, and blurry food pics. By all means, bring on to the pesto!

For the longest time, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with pesto. I love the idea of it, but store-bought pesto is consistently nasty. Too greasy, too gray-green, too basilly, too slick…it’s just all wrong. So my only solution is to make my own. While this is an easy process, it’s the procurement of basil that gets tricky. It takes TONS to yield any respectable amount of pesto. That gets so pricey.

So what to do? Fake it, kids! Choose a spicy green, like arugula or watercress, add a little basil, and you’ve got a really tasty pesto for half the price! It’s also super simple and if you take care of it, lasts up to a week (or more!). Read below as I knock out the recipe, and keep reading for some fun ways to use it.

Arugula Pesto
1 container of arugula
1 garlic clove
½ cup of walnuts, toasted
½ cup of grated parmesan
2-4 TBSP olive oil
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper
optional: 4 or 5 basil leaves
First off, you pretty much need to have a food processor to pull this off. Start by pulsing half of the nuts, cheese and the garlic until roughly chopped. Add half the arugula, half the oil, and squeeze half a lemon over it. Pulse until well chopped and pasty. Add the rest of the ingredients, (and optional basil) holding back on the oil unless you need it to moisten. Pulse until you get to pesto consistency. Scoop out into a sealable container, drizzle the top lightly with oil, press plastic wrap directly on the surface, and refrigerate immediately to discourage browning.
So that’s the recipe. Here are several quick ways to use it:

Turf on your Surf

Simply bake, roast, or pan-fry your favorite fish fillet in the skillet with basic seasonings like salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon. When you plate, top each fillet with a healthy dollop of room-temperature pesto. Don’t put it on before because it will turn a not-so-appetizing shade of mud green. 😉

Pesto Mayo

While this may sound like a trendy Mexican vacation hotspot, it’s really just a quick-and-easy condiment for sandwiches. Simply mix equal parts mayonnaise and pesto in a small bowl, add a spritz of lemon, and a dash of salt and pepper. It’s a nice break from your day-in/day-out mustard and mayonnaise rut.

Pasta Nests with Pesto Shrimp
So this is that ghastly picture from earlier. Nauseating pesto aside, the nests are super cute, and you can make them using whatever you have on hand. It’s also a great way to get your pasta fix without feeling like you’re on your third round at Olive Garden.


Half a pound of angel hair pasta
1/3 cup milk
3/4 cup of grated parmesan
1 TBSP reduced fat sour cream
Italian seasoning
Other: shrimp, pesto, muffin tin

See how dark and sad this picture is? It's like I'm cooking in a Cold War-era bunker.

First, get your water on the stove, working toward boiling. While that happens, mix up your remaining ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Cook the pasta for three minutes, drain, and add to the cheese mixture. Use a non-stick muffin tin if you can. If not, spray that baby with Pam. Using a fork, snag some pasta, maneuver it into a muffin tin, then twirl the fork to make a nice spiral nest shape.

Note: New Fancy Camera will not self-crop my feet out of the frame.

Repeat until you run out of pasta. Divide any remaining liquid among the cups, then top with a petite pinch of extra cheese for fun. Bake at 350º until the tops are slightly browned, about 10-15 minutes.

Even though the pic is sad, can you tell that the edges are crispy and delicious?

And that’s pretty much it. I sauteed some shrimp, added pesto off the heat, and topped my nests. In my head, it was going to look delicious. Instead, it looked like some poor bird was suffering from dysentery. One more time, for good measure:
Oh, my eyes! It tasted better than it looks, I promise.
So that’s it! Hopefully, this is the last time on Kitchen Mischief that I will ever reference poop when describing my own food. Well, at least a Squirrel can dream…
Happy Mischief Making! 😉

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4 Responses to “Pissed About Pesto”

  1. Matthew Says:

    I must give credit where credit is due. Ray takes all of my pics. There are very few I did myself. Though I plate, he takes really great photos. He is VERY patient where I am not.

    Thanks Ray!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Great post!!!’.

  3. Judy Miller Says:

    Love it…even the pics of your tootsies…the shrimp nests are really adorable…there must be an Eastery application for them.

  4. jellydanish@hotmail.com Says:

    After reading your post I think I might try this with cilantro pesto. Yummy ~ thanks for sharing your poopy pesto!

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