• Leslie Lennox

An introduction to "PESTO of the Month"

Since the mid-2000’s, Pesto has been at the core of my life. That is, with the exception of my family and friends.


This obsession began very innocently after my husband, Dave and I purchased our first home, where we looked forward to raising our daughter, Hope. This old house, in the lovely Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta, was clearly over our pay grade; however, being that it was in very bad shape, it was within our reach. The house, in all it’s blue glory, sat on the corner of a 4.5 acre lot. Included on the property was a long, neglected 1937 Lord & Burnham greenhouse. Some couples would have been scared away by the condition of this house and property, but not us. We thought we could make it our home and restore it to it’s onetime greatness. I won’t bore you with all the years of blood, sweat and tears that went into accomplishing this. But, there were many! There were setbacks as well. Mostly, involving the weather and flooding. Our property, which was very private, was surrounded by a creek and a small stream. Most of the time the waters flowed normally, but when Mother Nature would rear her ugly head, and rain non-stop for days and days, the water, would redirect into our backyard, garden and greenhouse. Nothing could sway us from our decision.


The greenhouse became a place to try growing everything possible. Dave and young Hope, would plant seeds in the germinating soil. Once these seedlings grew they would be transplanted into bigger pots and later transplanted into our garden out back.


Basil grew prolifically. Dave would harvest enough to fill a large paper bag, and walk straight into the kitchen. My parents had gifted Dave with a copy of The Joy of Cooking, a late 1990’s edition. I took it off the shelf and looked for a pesto recipe. I followed the recipe and was very proud of the result, although I knew I could improve on it. With each batch, I would tweak the amount of garlic, a little more grated Parmigiano Reggiano, more kosher salt, different extra virgin olive oil. Batches and batches later I was very happy. What to do when you have so much Basil Pesto? Share it of course, and that is what we did! All our appreciative friends thought we should sell it, as it was that good. How bad could it be when you are creating a product that was harvested within a few minutes? Things happen for a reason it seems. A little while after, we were encouraged to find a way to sell our pesto, we were invited to become a founding member of a newly announced farmers market. Yes, we said and over a few months of selling every Saturday morning, Whole Foods picked up the line. A few of the details are missing from my story but suffice to say Pesto became my call in life. It has been responsible for meeting many wonderful people, providing opportunities galore and allowing me to start a new chapter in my journey as an author.


Now that you know a little about me, this blog will be the site of sharing a different PESTO each month. For Pesto can be created to accommodate your location, the seasons, what you have hanging around in your refrigerator or pantry, to meet your food needs and dietary preferences. Like the title of my cookbook, PESTO: The Modern Mother Sauce, these monthly blogs will encourage you to use your pesto and build a fabulous meal...or not! By that I mean eat it straight from the jar! I will try to offer a classic rendition (with nuts and cheese) and also a vegan version. Make your trip to the farmers market an adventure, seeking out what is available.


Stayed tuned...share what you might be looking to get from this monthly blog...hope to bump into you at my favorite produce stand!



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Illustrations by Anna Repp