I think every serious cook has a few pricey items in their cooking rations that they just adore. Some folks swear by an expensive balsamic vinegar or an exotic oil, while others insist upon using only the freshest, most expensive organic produce available. While I have my share of vinegars, oils, and organic produce, my current favorite splurge is a store-bought pesto: Cibo Naturals Classic Basil Pesto. At about five bucks for a six-ounce container, it is not cheap, especially when one is living on a graduate student's budget. But my goodness, is it ever versatile! I love it in pasta and on Boca Chik'n patties (vegetarian fake chicken patties). It mixes well with ricotta cheese (for pasta) or a bit of mayo (for sandwiches), and it works well on its own. For some fancy eggs, it also mixes well into scrambled eggs. (I picked up the latter tip from a recipe in Rachael Ray's Cooking Round the Clock, which is a fun cookbook to peruse, although like almost all her books, it's pretty heavy on the meat, butter, oil, and cheese. If you are on a diet, you might want to stay away from Ray's books!)
So what is it about this pesto that makes it so great? I think it has a wonderful balance between basil and all the other pesto ingredients. That being said, I would like to try my hand at making my own pesto this summer, especially because I find the smell of fresh basil intoxicating. Since my kitchen basil plant is now deceased, I am stuck buying my fresh basil at the grocery store, but perhaps now is the time to buy a new plant and throw the remains of the old one away. Right now the dead plant reminds me of a Japanese zen garden in winter with its long bare sticks. It also looks a bit pathetic next to my lemon tree which is green and lovely. So here's to basil pesto: rich, green, and worth the splurge!