In my imagination, The Prospect is the coolest restaurant to ever be. The kind of place in the basement of some old downtown brick building. Lots of rich wood with rounded corners – cool in some lost decade which makes it cool now. That terrible carpet every established restaurant seems to have, mirrors behind a bar that has more glasses hanging above it that could ever be needed. Glittering alcohols in unmarked bottles.
Cool people. Maybe some jazz music. But not the kind of jazz music that makes you pissed. The kind that makes you dreamy and intellectual. I imagine The Prospect as a place where you might join tables with the couple next to you if you struck up a conversation before your meals arrived. Where the waitresses never write down the orders and never get it wrong. Long black aprons. And an air of mischief in the workers who have gigs at the community theatre now and then. The kind of place where you know you’re not allowed to make substitutions and you’d never dream of it anyway because the recipes are perfect.
It’s where my mom worked when my parents moved to Kansas City for a flash in the pan before heading to New York to pursue their acting careers. My mom, Judy, an effervescent waitress, her long black hair flipping over her shoulder at just the right moments.
I’ll never know because The Prospect is long gone. Lost to the graveyard of restaurants that should have survived, but didn’t. But while the building is likely now filled with the newest trends, its memory lives on at my dinner table. And in my mother’s heart. She loved this restaurant. Its dark and sparkling bar. It’s light and airy dining room. It’s magical patio. This was a place she felt at home. It was a place she experienced life. She was standing in the kitchen when she heard about John Lennon’s assassination.
Even though The Prospect isn’t a place you can visit, you can bring a little bit of The Prospect to your very own table.
I have to warn you.
There’s no going back.
Once you have this pesto, all other pesto will be ruined.
Yes, you read that right. This is the pesto to end all pesto. And if you want to still be able to buy a jar of pesto or order from your favorite noodle chain, just go click the ‘x’ in the corner on this page and forget everything I’ve said. Keep your precious ability to enjoy all pesto but, honestly, I often envy it. I’m serious and I’ll understand.
Gardening Is Hard
It’s hard! Okay! Like all these blogs of people twirling around in cute little garden hats with 6 dozen carrots are mesmerizing to me!
I try to grow tomatoes? I create a strange tomato jungle full of vigor, but not full of edible tomatoes.
I try to keep ONE hanging plant alive and I just. I don’t. I WANT to. I want to so bad. And maybe part of this blog journey will include my attempts at greening my thumb.
But I’ve got one thing down. Basil. Basil is the easiest little goldmine you can invest in. It grows in the ground. It grows in containers. Its hearty. Its forgiving. Its fragrant. It makes the pesto. Just pinch those white flowers off the top all summer and you’ll be swimming in delicious basil.
Yeah, you can buy those little packs of fresh basil. Maybe you have some awesome market where you can buy bags of locally grown basil. But I implore you, as the world’s saddest excuse for a food person who understands food growth, grow some basil and use it for this recipe. It is the biggest payoff.
The Prospect’s Pesto
Serves: 6 – I mean honestly the amount of people doesn’t matter you will eat all of it.
- 2-3 C Fresh pinched, backyard basil, rinsed and spun
- 2 Big cloves garlic
- 2 T Pine nuts
- 3/4 C Olive oil (One you actually like the taste of – I’m honestly partial to Trader’s Joe’s Full Flavor Olive Oil)
- 3/4 C Grated parmesan cheese
- 1.2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 lb. Penne, cooked to package instructions
- Salad spinner
- Various measuring spoons and cups
- Large pot for pasta cooking
- Food processor, at least 4 cup capacity
- In a food processor, combine basil, garlic cloves, pine nuts, and just enough olive oil to moisten the mixture and allow it to process. Puree this mix into as fine a paste as humanly (or…mechanically) possible. Pause to scrape as many times as you need. It should be a uniform paste without any large leafy chunks.
- Grab your serving bowl, put the remaining olive oil, parmesan, and salt in the bowl. Dump the green mix in the bowl. Gently and with much love combine all of the ingredients in the bottom of the bowl, mixing very well.
- Toss with your cooked penne. (Don’t rinse your pasta!) Make sure you get all the pesto up and coating all the pasta.
- Serve with a crusty bread loaf and quality butter.
- Weep with joy.