After teaching in English in Istanbul for six months, I was happy to be on the road again.  We visited a friend in Bulgaria for a few days, then began hitchhiking to a country that I hadn’t yet explored: Italy.  It was the middle of June, and unfathomably hot, so we didn’t oppose when we were offered a place to stay in the Dolomite Mountains.  An Italian trucker had picked J up a year ago, and still followed him via his blog.  Seeing that we were heading to Venice, he drove down and met us.  After multiple stops at village pubs, we arrived at his mountain home, and he got to cooking.  Staying true to his northern Italian roots, he made pesto genovese and pulled out several bottles of wine.  His recipe is simple, authentic, and a sure crowd-pleaser.  Buon appetito!

Prep time: 1 minute

Cook time: No cooking, just blend for a few minutes


  • 1 small basil plant
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 c walnuts
  • 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese (*replace with 1/2 c/60 grams tofu for a vegan option)
  • pinch of salt


Peel garlic skins, pick basil leaves off of the plant, and add all ingredients to a food processor or blender; if you don’t have one, use a mortar and pestle.  Blend until nuts and garlic are thoroughly broken down.  Serve on pasta like Italians, or on whatever you want.  To make a creamy sauce that can be poured on vegetables, heat the pesto with a few tablespoons of cream, stirring frequently.

Basil and Walnut Pesto

Basil and Walnut Pesto