Charred Corn Salad with Peppers and Feta

Charred Corn and Pepper Salad with Feta


Corn is my favorite vegetable.  Especially fresh, local (Michigan) sweet corn.  As summer is reaching an end, I’ve been stocking my kitchen with plenty of corn, fruits, and other vegetables before they are gone for the season.  It’s impossible to overuse the word “fresh” when describing this dish.  Soo good.

So many amazing flavors are in this salad. Smokey corn, crunchy and spicy peppers, in-season tomatoes, pungent red onion, creamy black beans, and zesty lime dressing (oh, and never forget the feta).

Use this as a wonderful side dish to accompany your favorite backyard grilling favorites.  It doubles well as a salsa to scoop up with your favorite tortilla chips.  I served this salad along side a roast chicken, but it would be equally good served as a vegetarian meal. Pile it high next to a ripe avocado (dressed with lime juice, salt, and pepper, of course).  This salad is even better the next day, so be sure to have plenty left over.

If you’re going to make one last fresh salad before the fall, make this one.  My favorite salad of this summer.

Charred Corn and Pepper Salad with Feta



  • 5 ears fresh sweet corn, husked (or 3 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed)
  • 3/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 cup sweet peppers, diced (I used a mixed variety, but use whatever looks fresh at your market)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • Juice of 1 lime (approximately 1 1/2 tbsp)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese


Bring a large pot of water to a light boil.  Boil corn for 3-5 minutes or until cooked through. Drain and reserve.  Heat grill (outdoor grill or indoor grill pan) to medium high.  Coat corn with 1 tbsp olive oil and grill for 5 minutes, rotating frequently to achieve a nice char.  Remove corn from grill, cut kernels off the cob, and transfer to a large bowl.  (Alternatively, saute frozen/thawed corn and 1 tbsp of olive oil in a saute pan over medium high heat for 5-8 minutes.)

To corn, add onion, bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, tomatoes, black beans, and parsley.  Toss to combine.

Make dressing by whisking together garlic, remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper.

Toss salad with the dressing.  Top with crumbled feta.

Servings: 8 (Serving Size: 1 cup)

Caprese Mac and Cheese

Caprese Mac and Cheese


Mac and Cheese in August?  I’ll take it, but with a summer spin.  Even during these warm months, I still need a big bowl of cheesy, noodley goodness. I think we all do.

For this batch of goodness, I combined mozzarella, sharp white cheddar, parmesan, and cream cheese to make a velvety smooth sauce.  I then tossed this with whole wheat macaroni and topped with fresh tomatoes and basil.  Voila!  We have savory and fresh summertime mac and cheese.

You can make this dish lighter by using reduced fat cheese.  When I’m making mac and cheese, I prefer to use full fat.  If you’re making mac and cheese, I assume you’re taking a day off from the diet.  Just be sure to eat a smaller portion and not go back for seconds (yeah, like that’s happening).

Serve with a nice salad of fresh spinach tossed with lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Get ready for your family and friends to devour.  The entire dish was gone in 10 minutes at my house.  Best enjoyed outside, under a shady tree, with a glass of wine in hand.


  • 1 lb whole wheat elbow macaroni (4 cups dry)
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups skim milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 cups sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Tomato Basil Garnish – 2 cups chopped heirloom cherry tomatoes (mixed variety), 1/2 cup fresh basil sliced into thin ribbons, salt, and pepper



Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and reserve.  Spray baking dish with non-stick cooking spray, reserve.

Melt butter over medium-low heat in a saucepan until bubbly.  Stir frequently to avoid burning.  When butter is melted, add onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Cook 2-3 minutes until onion is translucent and garlic is fragrant.  Add flour and whisk to combine.  Meanwhile, warm milk in the microwave for 2 minutes.  Whisk the warm milk into the butter and flour mixture.  Increase heat to medium-high and continue cooking for 5 minutes, whisking frequently until sauce begins to bubble and thicken.  Season with salt and pepper.

Remove sauce from heat, add 1 cup mozzarella cheese, sharp white cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, cream cheese, and parsley.   Stir to combine until all cheese is melted.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your preference.  Add cooked pasta and stir to combine.  Pour into prepared baking dish.  Top with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.

Combine panko and Italian seasoning.  Sprinkle over mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes until bubbly.

Broil for 2 minutes to brown breadcrumbs (be careful not to burn).

While mac and cheese is baking, prepare garnish.  Combine tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper.

Remove mac and cheese from broiler, top with garnish, and serve!

Servings: 8 (Serving Size: 1 cup) Notes: Adapted from Caprese Mac and Cheese

Zucchini Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

Zucchini banana Chocolate Chip Bread


I warned you that some recipes on my site will be healthy, and some…not so much.  This bread falls under the “not so much” category.   And, hey, as long as we’re making not so healthy bread, chocolate chips must be involved.

I combined two of my favorite bread recipes in this one.  Zucchini bread and banana bread (you’re already smelling this out of the oven, aren’t you?).  I’ve had trouble making banana bread in the past.  I’ll admit that my past few attempts were far too dry.  Never again will I be making banana bread without adding zucchini to it.  The zucchini brings so much moisture to the bread, making it impossible to dry it out.

This recipe is foolproof.  Combine wet ingredients, combine dry ingredients, add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  Don’t forget the butter and chocolate chips, bake, and done!  It’s just that simple.

This bread can be eaten as breakfast, dessert, or as an afternoon snack.  I like it is toasted and slathered with cream cheese.  I know…cream cheese?  I thought it was weird at first too. Give it a try, though.  You’ll be so happy you did.

Zucchini Banana Chocolate Chip Bread



  • non stick cooking spray
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 1/2 cups zucchini, shredded (2-3 zucchini shredded on a box grater)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 heaping tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp raw brown sugar (optional, but recommended, it gives the crust a nice crunch)


Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Grease a loaf pan with non stick cooking spray and reserve.

In a large bowl combine bananas, zucchini, sugar, and egg.  Mix well.

In another bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.  Mix well.  Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  Mix well, but do not over mix.

Stir in melted butter and chocolate chips.  Pour batter into loaf pan and sprinkle the top with brown sugar.

Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick can be inserted into the center of the loaf and come out clean (or mostly clean).

Allow bread to cool in the loaf pan for 30 minutes.  Remove from loaf pan and allow to fully cool on a cooling rack.  Slice, toast, slather with butter or cream cheese!

Zucchini Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

Vegetable Fried Rice

Vegetable Fried Rice


I’m sure most of you have heard of “Meatless Mondays.” If you haven’t, it’s not a hard concept to figure out.  I don’t do this every Monday, but I try as often as possible.  I can always use an excuse to kick off my week in a healthy way.  I’ll also use Meatless Mondays as a way to use up uneaten vegetables left over from the weekend.  Healthy and budget friendly!

Today, I bring you my take on vegetable fried rice.  A great combination of brown rice, vegetables, and spicy (yet “citrusy”) soy sauce.  This Meatless Monday meal takes very little time to come together.  Just the dish you need to get back on track after a weekend of indulgence.

I like my fried rice spicy, so I serve this dish with extra sriracha hot sauce on the side.  If you do not like spicy food, simply leave it out.


  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice (yields 4 cups cooked)
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 2 eggs, beaten and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 2 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (I bought these “pre shredded, washed, and ready to use”)
  • 1 cup baby bok choy, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen shelled edamame, thawed
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 lime, juiced (1 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp sriracha hot sauce


Cook rice according to package directions, reserve.  Alternatively, use 4 cups of leftover brown rice.

Heat wok (or large saute pan) to medium heat and spray with olive oil cooking spray.  Add eggs, scramble for 30 seconds, then remove from wok and reserve.  Add 1 tbsp oil to wok and turn heat to high.  Add chopped onion, garlic, and white parts of the greed onions.  Cook 30 seconds, being careful not to burn.  Add mushrooms, carrots, bok choy and edamame.  Cook 5 minutes until vegetables are tender and cooked through.  Add cooked rice and the rest of the green onions.  Stir to combine.

In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, sriracha, and lime juice.  Add sauce to rice mixture.  Toss to combine.  Enjoy any additional sriracha and lime juice.

Servings 4 (Serving Size: 1 1/2 heaping cups)

Baked Zucchini “Zuk” Fries with Greek Yogurt & Sriracha Dipping Sauce

Baked Zucchini Fies with Greek Yogurt & Sriracha Dipping Sauce


I took a trip to my local farmers market and somehow came home with 3 large bags of zucchini. Can you blame me when they were charging $2.00 for 10 zucchini?  $6.00 later, I had A LOT of zucchini. Time to get creative with an abundance of one product.

“Zuk” (I like to abbreviate) is easy to sneak into most meals from breakfast, through dessert.  You can bake it, stuff it, grill it, saute it.  Can you resist a good “Zuk” bread?  The answer there is, no you can’t.  Add Zuk to soups, stews, stir-fries, omelets, and cookies.  It’s another one of those versatile products.

Why not combine one of my happy craving foods (french fries) with all this Zuk?  It’s not a secret that french fries aren’t the healthiest, so I often make my own.  To offset the unhealthiness, I’ll bake the fries instead of frying them.  Now you see where I’m going with this recipe.  The zucchini stays crisp and fresh, and the garlicky bread crumbs give it a nice crunchy coating.  I paired these zucchini fries with a tangy Greek yogurt Sriracha dipping sauce.  As my mom would say, “to die for!”

Take a hint.  Go to your farmers market, pick up some Zuk, and make these delicious fries.


  • 3 zucchinis, cut into 3″ x 1/2″ sticks
  • 2 egg whites
  • pinch of salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup bread crumbs ( I used Contadina bread crumbs with roasted garlic and savory spices)
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 6 oz container of 0% fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Wash and cut the ends off the zucchini.  To chop zucchini into 3″ x 1/2″ sticks, cut each zucchini in half lengthwise, then cut each half into thirds lengthwise.  Then, cut each third in half crosswise.

In a small dish (I like to use a pie plate) beat egg whites and season with a pinch of salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. In a large zip-lock bag, combine bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.

Prepare a cookie sheet by evenly spraying it with olive oil spray.

Working with a few at a time, dip zucchini into egg white mixture, then place into the zip-lock bag with the bread crumb mixture.  Shake to coat, and place in a single layer onto prepared baking sheet.  Repeat until all zucchini are coated.  Spray zucchini with another layer of olive oil spray.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden and cooked through.

To make the Greek Yogurt and Sriracha Dipping Sauce, simply combine Greek yogurt and Sriracha hot sauce. Mix until well blended.

Meredith’s Classic Oatmeal Cookies

Meredith's Classic Oatmeal Cookies


Classic, because they are my sisters recipe.  Jazzed up, because they are full of incredible flavor.

My sister, Meredith, is the baker in our family.  If there’s a special occasion or holiday, you will find her in the kitchen whipping up a batch of her famous GIANT oatmeal cookies.  She uses a classic recipe, but jazzes them up with pumpkin pie spice.  If you are unfamiliar with pumpkin pie spice, you’re missing out.  Pumpkin pie spice is a wonderful combination of ground cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.  You can easily create your own blend by combining equal parts of each spice in a mason jar, and shaking the jar until well combined.  You can also find this spice at most grocery stores in the spice aisle.

These cookies can be made in GIANT form (or can be made small for those of us who need portion control with our sweets).  I have given measurement sizes for both options in the recipe.   My favorite part about these cookies is the slight crunch you get from the oatmeal and brown sugar, while the cookies still remains soft and chewy.

When these oatmeal cookies come out of the oven warm and gooey, everyone comes running. The smell alone will lure them in.  Enjoy with a glass of cold milk.

Meredith's Classic Oatmeal Cookies



  • 1 stick (1/2 cup), plus 6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, raisins, or walnuts (add ins if you want) – I prefer mine without


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla, continue to beat with mixer until well combined.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.  Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  I do this in three separate shifts, slowly incorporating the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula.  Add oats (and any other add-ins if you want), mix well until combined.

Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper.

For GIANT cookies, drop dough by 3 tbsp increments onto cookie sheet and bake for 11-13 minutes.  Servings: 16 cookies (Serving Size: 1 cookie)

For smaller cookies, drop dough by heaping tablespoons onto cookie sheet and bake 8 minutes.  Servings: 48 cookies (Serving Size: 1 cookie)

Allow cookies to cool for 2-3 minutes on baking sheet, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes: Adapted from Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Crock Pot Chicken Caesar Sliders

Crockpot Chicken Caesar Sliders


This past weekend, both Saturday and Sunday provided perfect air and water show weather.  So we put our entertaining hats on, hit the rooftop, and took advantage.  It was indeed a success.

I wanted to make something delicious for my guests that didn’t require much work on my part. These sliders fit both those requirements.  Plus, they were just the right size for guests to manage in one hand, while holding a cold beer (or glass of wine) in the other.  I served the sliders with my Lentil Orzo Salad, Meredith’s Classic Oatmeal Cookies, and lots of cold beverages.

The Caesar chicken can be made up to a day ahead of serving and reheated in the crock pot just before guests arrive.  If you choose to make it in advance, be careful not to dry out your chicken during the reheating process (just keep an eye on it and add additional salad dressing if it gets too dry).  I put the chicken in the crock pot at 7 am and it was fully cooked and ready for shredding at 11 am.  With guests arriving at noon, timing worked out perfectly.  The chicken was fall apart tender.  It soaked up all the yummy flavors once combined with the rest of the ingredients.

These sliders are  simple and sophisticated at the same time.  A great, “friends over on the weekend,” meal.


  • 2 lbs chicken breasts
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup homemade creamy Caesar salad dressing, or store-bought
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 16 slider buns, toasted
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, outside leaves removed and sliced thin
  • Additional creamy caesar salad dressing and parmesan cheese for slider toppings


Place chicken breasts and chicken broth in crock pot.  Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8.

Remove chicken from crock pot and reserve 1/3 cup chicken broth.  Discard additional broth (or skim and reserve for use in another recipe).  Allow chicken to cool enough to handle and shred.

Return shredded chicken to crock pot, add reserved chicken broth, 3/4 cup salad dressing, Parmesan cheese, parsley and black pepper.  Stir to combine.  Turn crock pot to low (or keep warm, if your crock pot has that setting) and allow to heat through for 15 minutes.  Add the additional 1/4 cup salad dressing if needed.

Top each slider bun with 1/4 cup caesar chicken mixture and romaine lettuce.  Serve with additional salad dressing and parmesan cheese for individuals to customize.

Servings: 16 (Serving size: 1 slider)

Notes: This recipe makes 4 cups of caesar chicken.  If you prefer to serve on full size buns, recipe makes 8 sandwiches with 1/2 cup caesar chicken on each.

Italian Turkey Stuffed Portobello Mushroom

Italian Turkey Stuffed Portabella Mushroom


(That’s quite the name for a dish, isn’t it?)  I  pride myself on making healthy comfort food.  Should “healthy” and “comfort food” be used in the same sentence?  Of course they should!  In my world, they easily go hand in hand.  Warm, gooey mozzarella cheese oozing over the sides of a turkey stuffed portobello mushroom.  Sounds like a healthy comfort food recipe…it’ll result in a happy stomach.

I like to use 2 of my signature sauces in this dish, Fresh Summer Tomato Sauce and Spinach Basil Lemon Pesto.  If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making both of these homemade sauces, you can easily use your favorite store bought versions.

Portobello mushrooms are a hearty and meaty vegetable.  Portobello’s are often used in recipes to replace the meat component all together.  (Side note: one of my favorite ways to eat a burger is skipping the meat and choosing a portobello mushroom… I will have to post my favorite portobello mushroom burger soon.)  If you want to make this dish vegetarian, do away with the turkey patty and skip the initial 25 minute baking step.  The end result will be just as delicious.

The next time you are craving Italian, but don’t want all the carbohydrates from pasta (and the bread, because come on…where there is pasta, there is garlic bread), give these Italian turkey stuffed portobello mushrooms a try!

Italian Turkey Stuffed Portabella Mushroom



  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup Fresh Summer Tomato Sauce, or your favorite homemade or store bought marinara sauce
  • 2 portobello mushrooms, stems removed and wiped of any dirt
  • 1/4 cup Spinach Basil Lemon Pesto, or your favorite homemade or store bought pesto
  • 2/3 c part skim mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • fresh basil leaves, for finishing


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

First, prepare the turkey mixture.  Heat a saute pan over medium heat, add olive oil.  Add onion and garlic, and saute for 3-5 minutes until translucent.  Be careful not to burn garlic.  Remove from heat, allow to cool, and reserve.  Place ground turkey in a mixing bowl.  Add cooled onion and garlic mixture, breadcrumbs, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Mix to combine.  Form into 2 patties roughly the size of your portobello mushrooms.  Reserve turkey patties.

Add tomato sauce (sauce can be room temperature) to a baking dish.  Place portobellos (gill side up) on tomato sauce.  Add 2 tbsp of pesto on top of each mushroom and spread to form a thin layer.  Add reserved turkey patties on top of pesto.  Bake for 25 minutes.

Remove from oven, top each turkey patty with 1/3 c of mozzarella cheese.  Return to oven for 10 minutes, then broil for 2 minutes to form a brown crust.  Top with 1 tbsp of parmesan cheese per mushroom, and fresh basil.

Serve with extra tomato sauce from baking dish and a nice salad.  I chose a simple arugula salad tossed with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.

Enjoy every last bite!

Servings: 2 (Serving size: 1 portobello mushroom)   This recipe can easily by doubled to serve 4, or quadrupled to serve 8.

Portabella Mushroom Nutritional Benefits: 1 average size portobello mushroom has 42 calories, 1 gram of fat, only 12 mg of sodium (categorizing it as a low sodium food option), and contains 18 different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Fresh Summer Tomato Sauce

Fresh Summer Tomato Sauce


This is the perfect time of the year to share my fresh homemade tomato sauce.   Tomatoes are in abundance at the farmers markets, and they’re at their peak of freshness.  This is definitely a summer tomato sauce.  Light, extremely flavorful, and oh so fresh tasting.  This sauce will ruin all other tomato sauces for you (sorry).

My favorite way to serve this sauce is over warm pasta with grated parmesan cheese and plenty of fresh basil.  If you prefer meat sauce, add to browned Italian sausage or pancetta.  If you want to up your vegetable intake, combine sauce with roasted zucchini, mushrooms, and red peppers.  Use in any recipe that calls for your favorite marinara sauce, or simply tear off a piece of fresh bread, dip, eat, and repeat.  The opportunities are endless.

Make it soon, before tomatoes say goodbye to us for the winter!

Summer Tomato Sauce



  • 8 large ripe tomatoes (2-3 lbs) – you can use any type of tomato, many swear by romas for making sauce, I just use whatever tomatoes look ripe at the market or are on hand
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup white onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • pinch red pepper flakes, more if you like it spicy, leave out if you like no heat
  • 1 bay leaf
  • fresh basil, to finish


First, you need to blanche and peel your tomatoes.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare an ice water bath in a large bowl (just like it sounds…add ice and water in a bowl large enough to hold all of your tomatoes).  Cut a small x into the bottom of each tomato.  Place the tomatoes in boiling water and blanche for 15-30 seconds.  Immediately place blanched tomatoes into your prepared ice water bath to stop the cooking process.  Your tomatoes are now ready to peel.  The skins should easily come off, but if you are having a hard time, just add the trouble tomato back into the boiling water for 10 seconds.  Discard the skins.

Next, you will need to remove the tomato seeds.  Cut tomatoes into quarters or in half.  Squeeze tomatoes over a strainer placed over a bowl to catch the juices.  Discard the seeds and reserve the tomato juice.

Note: If you live in a region where fresh tomatoes are not prevalent, use canned whole tomatoes in their juice (2 28oz cans should do the trick).  Just disregard the first 2 steps and skip straight below.

Place prepared tomatoes into a food processor or blender and pulse until a puree is formed.  If you prefer a chunkier tomato sauce, mash tomatoes with a potato masher.  Add reserved tomato juice to tomato puree and reserve.

To prepare your sauce, add olive oil to a pot over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes until translucent.  Add reserved tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf.  Let sauce come to a boil, then reduce heat and allow sauce to simmer for 45 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove and discard bay leaf, and add fresh basil.  Adjust seasoning to suit your taste and enjoy!  This will result in a light, fresh, summer tomato sauce.  If you prefer a more caramelized sauce, allow to cook for an additional 30-45 minutes.

Yields: 3 1/2 – 4 cups.  This recipe is ideal for canning or freezing.

Spinach Basil Lemon Pesto (Nut-Free)

Spinach Basil Lemon Pesto


Pesto is so versatile.   With just a few basic ingredients,  you can easily make fresh pesto.  I love to use pesto as a flavor booster in many recipes.  I add it to soups, vinaigrettes, and marinades.  I use it as a sauce on homemade pizza and to top grilled meat and veggies.  I feature it in a panini, and I simply serve it over warm pasta. I could go on and on (told you it was versatile).

I’ve made many different types of pesto (sun dried tomato and artichoke, to name a couple).  However, I usually find myself going back to the classic basil pesto.  In this recipe, I took the classic and decided to add one of my favorite ingredients.  Fresh spinach gives this pesto a nutritional boost and a vibrant green color.  This recipe is also nut free which helps to keep both calories and fat content down.  The inclusion of lemon juice adds a brightness to this pesto that most recipes don’t have.

You can put this pesto together in under 5 minutes.  Add spinach, basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a food processor.  Blend to combine, and it’s ready!  Keep stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for one week, or freeze to use later.  I like to freeze pesto towards the end of summer when basil is bountiful (and inexpensive).  To do so, add pesto to ice cube tray compartments in 2-3 tablespoon increments.  Once frozen, pop them out of the ice cube tray, and add to a freezer safe container.  Add the pesto cubes to dishes throughout the winter for a fresh pop of flavor.

This recipe is a must make.  I encourage you to keep a jar of it available at all times like I do.  I hope you continue to find new ways to utilize the versatility of this spinach basil lemon pesto!


  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil


Add spinach and basil to food processor.  Pulse 2-3 times to combine.  Add garlic, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  Pulse 2 more times to combine.  With the machine running, add olive oil in a slow steady stream until well combined and emulsified.

Makes: 3/4 of a cup

Notes: Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod’s Spinach Basil Pesto

%d bloggers like this: