Nut-Free Basil Pesto


My family planted a large garden when I was growing up and the herb garden was my place to take care of. So making lots and lots of basil pesto was something I made almost every summer. After awhile of making big batches of pesto, the price of pine nuts starts to add up, so I started using walnuts and that worked but then I also discovered pinto beans are very yummy and make a very creamy pesto, not to mention way less expensive! It is also a great option for those you have nut allergies and sensitivities.

I also freeze most of my pesto so that I can use it any time of the year (see directions below on how I do that.)

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup good quality olive oil

1/3 cup cooked and cooled pinto beans

4 cloves garlic, cut in half

Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients into a food processor. Pulse a few times and then scrape sides of processor to make sure leaves aren’t sticking to the sides. Turn it on again and let it pulverize until everything is well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste and more olive oil if desired.

Store in the refrigerator for a few days or spoon into ice cube trays and place into the freezer. Once they’re fully frozen take out and put into a ziplock bag. These pesto cubes will last in the freezer for several months. I love to use them in the winter and add them to pastas or soups etc. So easy and it adds a fresh touch to those long winter months.


Cilantro Chimichurri


Originating in Uruguay and Argentina, Chimichurri is a loose oil and vinegar based sauce with most commonly parsley and maybe some cilantro. I like to use all cilantro in this non-traditional recipe. Spooned on top of meats such as steaks and grilled chicken, this sauce is so refreshing and simple to make for summer nights.

I always shop at Aldi and get their 69 cent bundle of cilantro for this. It’s so perfect and inexpensive.


1 large bouquet of cilantro

4 garlic cloves

2 teaspoons dried oregano

3 tablespoons vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon red dried pepper flakes

1/3 cup olive oil


Place all ingredients into a food processor and make sure it is all combined and cilantro is well processed.

This is perfect to use right away or you can let it sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to let the flavors blend.

Use liberally on top of steak or chicken and enjoy!

Yummy with a Caprese salad on the side as well!

Fresh Caprese Salad

One of my favorite countries is by far Italy. Not only is it gorgeous and the people enthusiastic, but its fresh and vibrant food is delectable! One of my favorites is Caprese Salad. It’s very simple containing tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, and some olive oil and salt and pepper. The colors showcase the Italian flag. This salad is commonly an antipasto (starter) for meals or can be enjoyed any time of the day!

Caprese at Bar II Mollo in Varenna LC, Italy We love this place! Free wifi and beautiful views of the lake.

Since traveling overseas is limited right now, bringing these amazing flavors into your own kitchen is the next best thing!


Fresh mozzerella

A couple fresh tomoatoes

Handful of fresh basil leaves

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic vinegar (optional and not traditional)


Slice the mozzarella and tomatoes. On plate layer everything in a wide circle making a pattern of green, white, and red and repeating. Drizzle plate with olive oil and salt and pepper.