Pesto: the cure for what ails me

Weekend Herb Blogging 2nd Anniversary logoAfter The Mint Killer prescribed me a sun lamp and more than one other friend commented on how worried they’ve been about my infernally snowbound-cranky mood, I realized two things: it was time to take drastic action, and I have been hoarding summer-like therapy in my freezer.

The inspiration for this particular plan of attack came last week, when one of my coworkers and I got to talking about Pizza Ranch on the way in to work. Pizza Ranch is a South Dakota chain that opened an outlet at Sycamore Mall in Iowa City about a year and a half ago. I can admit having eaten there one night when I was with a friend to see a movie and we discovered we had 45 minutes to kill before our film started. We decided to hit Pizza Ranch for a quick bite, and the place frightened me.

Here is what Pizza Ranch has to offer: unlimited pizza with a huge variety of toppings. Salad, although honestly, much of what is on the salad bar involves things of the creamy or pudding variety. Fried chicken. Mashed potatoes. Unlimited soda with the ability to add your very own preferential amount of cherry or vanilla syrup.

“That’s going to guarantee you a well-behaved child,” I said. “And we wonder why America is fat.”

“You know, pizza actually isn’t all that healthy,” my coworker said.

We went on to talk about homemade pizza, made on flatbreads and pitas and other healthy crust options, and it got me to thinking that I hadn’t made any in awhile. This, plus the fact that I had a lot of cubes of homemade pesto frozen in my kitchen, inspired me to try something that would remind me of those days when I could just run outside in shorts and flip-flops and harvest a quick handful of basil from the yard. Those times are coming again, and all I have to do is hang on.

Pesto pizzaI nuked a cube of pesto and spread it across a multi-grain Flatout flatbread, which serves as an excellent thin crust for these matters. The particular version photographed here featured sautéed spinach, sundried tomatoes, sliced baby bella mushrooms, and just enough part-skim mozzarella to hold everything together without letting things get out of hand. I baked it all at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, just until everything was brown and just a bit crispy.

The kitchen smelled of summery pesto from the time I started thawing the cube until long after the flatbread pizza finished baking. It was the best medicine I’d had in a long time, the flavors tied together with that bite of garlic and that smooth, summery flavor of the basil. I have been finding ways ever since to sneak those pesto cubes into my daily diet—honestly, they’re almost as good as a plane ticket to somewhere warm and blessedly snow-free.

All this herby goodness? It must mean that, after a fairly long absence, I’m returning to Weekend Herb Blogging, which is this week by Ulrike of Kuchenlatein. Be sure to check in with Ulrike’s blog for the full round-up!

14 Responses to “Pesto: the cure for what ails me”

  1. 1 Scott February 9, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    I’ve got pesto cubes in the freezer, too. Somewhere… Thanks for the reminder!

  2. 2 inadvertentgardener February 9, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Scott, you’re welcome — anytime! I can’t believe I’ve let mine sit for this long…

  3. 3 Kalyn February 9, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Oh yum! I have pesto in my freezer too. I wish we could run outside in our shorts, I’m getting seriously stir-crazy here.

  4. 4 inadvertentgardener February 9, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Kalyn, I’ve been hearing you guys are also having just about the worst winter in forever, too…you have my sympathies! Shorts weather is coming…I promise. We’ll get through!

  5. 5 Curtis February 9, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    Oh looks great. I love the flatouts. I didn’t know you can pizzas with them. Looks delish!

  6. 6 kate smudges February 9, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    Now I’m salivating – it’s definitely time for supper. Good idea to thaw out some pesto. There’s nothing that smells like summer quite like basil.

    One of these days the snow will be gone… and we’ll be back outdoors.

  7. 7 kethry February 9, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    something else you could try: half fill a small pan with frozen peas, and just about cover with enough stock (you could use boullion powder). bring to the boil, simmer for a few minutes then remove. Whizz with a stick blender, then add defrosted pesto, or mint jelly. serve with lots of black pepper and chucky bread. The fastest soup i’ve ever made, its wonderful (and very green).


  8. 8 Carol February 9, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Now I’m thinking I’d like a nice slide of pizza and I have no frozen pesto or flatbread in the house. But you have reminded us that another good reason to freeze some of the summer produce is so that we can get it out in the dark days of winter and remind ourselves that eventually, it will warm up.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  9. 9 Stuart February 10, 2008 at 1:00 am

    Anything but FRESH pesto makes me gag but I can appreciate your quandary Eliz. Being snowbound must be tough and without fresh pesto – even tougher. I’d go for the frozen cubes as well.

    Not long now and you’ll be making your own fresh from the herb patch.

  10. 10 Ulrike aka ostwestwind February 10, 2008 at 8:23 am

    I can smell the pesto, thank you for sharing the recipe for WHB with us.

  11. 11 Lydia February 10, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Great idea! I’ve been making pita pizzas forever — lately with the low-carb flax pitas. Smear on anything you find in the freezer (pesto and slow-roasted tomatoes are my standbys), dump on some cheese, heat it up, and it’s perfect. Last summer I gave away most of the pesto I made, so I’ve been rationing this year to make my own stash last longer. But pizza sounds so good right now….

  12. 12 wayne February 10, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    hang in there says the guy in SE PA which has had no real snow yet this year… maybe Tuesday??? the joy of winter is this… one we get to experience the rebirth in spring and two it gives a chance to do other things with our lives than garden… and yes, there are many other things to do in ones life. like I said, hang in there. and pizza with home made whole wheat dough and frozen pesto from our garden is on our menu for the week.

  13. 13 Jenny February 10, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    I’ve been realizing I need to make way more pesto this summer than I did last summer. I haven’t tried it on pizza yet, but I’ve just gotten into homemade pizza and I’m definitely going to have to. Yum!

  14. 14 inadvertentgardener February 10, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Curtis, the Flatouts are terrific for pizza — very light and crispy.

    Kate, you’re so right…summer will be here whether we’re ready or not!

    Kathy, that soup idea sounds fabulous!

    Carol, it’s a really good reminder.

    Stuart, I can’t wait to be able to whirr it up all freshlike again…but the cubes really do work wonders.

    Ulrike, you’re welcome, and thank you for hosting WHB this week!

    Lydia, I haven’t busted out the slow-roasted tomatoes, but definitely will do so soon…

    Wayne, there is something to be said for being able to have time to do some other things, although I really miss being outdoors…

    Jenny, I definitely recommend trying it on pizza. It’s delicious!

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