Basil Pesto Pasta for One (Nut-Free)

We have been having unseasonably hot and humid weather in our part of the world. Considering the heat, I haven’t wanted to cook or bake heavy dishes. This easy-to-make pesto pasta has been a meal that I’ve been eating frequently. It is relatively light, can be ready in a few minutes, and the pasta is the only thing you need to cook!

I have a few basil plants in my kitchen (thanks to my mom!), and they are full of leaves. The abundance of basil, along with the heat, inspired this dish. This recipe is specifically adapted to serve one person. I am more of a pasta fan than my husband, so I make this for myself when we are eating separate meals. However, you can easily multiply the quantities to serve multiple people.

I chose to make it nut-free because my mother doesn’t care for nuts, and there are some nut-based allergies in our family. I don’t miss the pine nuts, but the pesto itself is a bit thinner than traditional pesto. I have also added lemon juice to this recipe. You may choose to omit the lemon juice if you would like the pesto a bit thicker.

A few notes on the recipe:

Fresh Garlic: The garlic in this recipe is raw (not cooked), and raw garlic can have a bit of a bite to it. If you do not like the taste of raw garlic, you can roast it in the oven, prior to making the pasta dish (click here for a roasting guide). You can also substitute the minced garlic with a 1/8 teaspoon of dried garlic powder.

Parmesan Cheese: Shredded Parmesan cheese is blended into the pesto mixture. You can use Pecorino Romano instead of Parmesan cheese, but it is saltier. Keep this in mind when you are adding salt to the pesto mixture.

Fresh Mozzarella: I add fresh mozzarella to the pasta dish. You an either add an ounce of the mozzarella “pearls” or cube fresh mozzarella. If you do not have fresh mozzarella, you can add a couple tablespoons of shredded mozzarella cheese.

Tomatoes: This recipe benefits from the addition of cherry or grape tomatoes. If you would like to add tomatoes to the recipe, simply halve the tomatoes prior to making the dish. If you do not have cherry tomatoes, you can add half of a diced Roma tomato. If you choose to add a Roma tomato, remove the seeds before dicing it.

Cost Analysis:

Please note – the cost is based on what I paid for ingredients in the year 2020. Your actual costs may differ.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

  • Difficulty: easy
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An easy homemade pesto pasta recipe that is nut-free and results in one serving.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (packed) fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4 ounces pasta (I used fettuccine, but any shape will do)
  • pinch of salt, to taste
  • 1 ounce of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • suggested add-in: 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes (cut in half)

Directions

  1. Boil salted water in a saucepan and prepare pasta noodles per box instructions.
  2. Combine basil, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and a pinch or two of salt in a small blender or food processor. Blend until well combined.
  3. Drain pasta and remove it from heat. Add pesto to the pasta noodles and mix until combined. Add fresh mozzarella and uncooked tomatoes (if using) to the pasta.
  4. Top dish with additional Parmesan cheese and basil.
  5. Enjoy!

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Basil Lemonade

I like fresh lemonade, and we are currently having hot, sunny weather. Unfortunately, we don’t have any lemons in the house. Thankfully, you can make lemonade from lemon juice concentrate that tastes deceptively like the real thing!

I made my lemonade with fresh basil leaves. You can omit the basil, or use a different fresh herb.

Also keep in mind that you can easily tweak this recipe to your liking. If you like really tart lemonade, cut the sugar or add more lemon juice concentrate.

Cost Analysis:

Note: The costs are based on what I paid for ingredients in 2020. Your actual costs may differ.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Basil Lemonade

  • Difficulty: Easy
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This fresh basil lemonade is easy to make and can be made with lemon juice concentrate.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of ice cold water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice concentrate (or fresh lemon juice)
  • 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar, or to taste
  • 2 basil leaves, optional
  • Ice, optional

Directions

  1. Combine water, lemon juice, sugar, and basil leaves in a small blender.
  2. Blend ingredients until you can no longer see the basil leaves. Note – the lemonade will be frothy from the blending process.
  3. Add a few ice cubes to a glass. Then, pour the lemonade into a glass. If you do not like the froth, pour carefully or strain. Or, refrigerate the mixture to allow the frothiness to decrease.
  4. Garnish with a basil leaf if you are feeling festive, and enjoy!

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Tortilla Pizza: A Frugal Use of Leftovers?

James and I had a craving for thin crust pizza. We also had leftover homemade tomato sauce, leftover fresh mozzarella, a less than fresh tomato, and a bag of tortillas. What resulted? Crispy margherita-style pizzas. Not super filling, but a delicious and light meal.

The question is, is it a frugal meal?

After completing a cost analysis, the results show a cost of $1.37 per pizza. As the portion was small, this is perhaps not the most cost-effective meal. However, the majority of our ingredients were close to expiration, so it was a good opportunity to reduce our household waste. The cost could also be reduced by changing the type of cheese (but for me, fresh mozzarella cheese is a luxury I am willing to splurge on!)

We could have used the leftovers to make more caprese sandwiches (which were more filling and cheaper to make), but it wouldn’t have satisfied our thin crust pizza craving!

Cost Analysis:

IngredientIngredient Cost per UnitUnits Required for RecipeRecipe Cost
Flour Tortilla$0.23 per tortilla2 tortillas$0.46
Fresh Mozzarella$ 0.37 per ounce3 ounces$1.11
Tomato$ 0.30 per tomato1 tomato$0.30
Leftover Tomato Sauce$2.64 for full batch1/6 of sauce$0.44
Fresh Basil$ 0.06 per leaf4 leaves$0.24
Olive Oil0.23 per tablespoon1/3 tablespoon$0.08
Balsamic Glaze$ 0.10 per tsp1 teaspoon$0.10
Total cost for TWO pizzas:$2.73
Total cost for ONE pizza:$1.37
Note: This cost analysis is based on what I paid for my own ingredients in the year 2020. Actual prices may vary.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Tortilla Pizza: A Frugal Use of Leftovers?

  • Difficulty: Easy
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This crispy margherita-style pizza is delicious and light meal

Ingredients

  • 2 Flour tortillas (we used the “taco” size)
  • 3 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese (feel free to substitute)
  • 1 small roma tomato, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3-5 tablespoons leftover tomato sauce depending on your love of sauce! (you can use any pizza sauce/tomato based sauce that you have)
  • 4 leaves fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic glaze
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Rub a a little bit of olive oil on a baking sheet, add tortillas to baking sheet (do not stack), and rub a little bit of olive oil all over the tortillas (this will make them super crispy!)
  3. Spread tomato sauce on the tortillas .
  4. Add fresh mozzarella (1.5 ounce per pizza) on top of the sauce.
  5. Add fresh tomato to the top of the pizza.
  6. DO NOT ADD THE FRESH BASIL UNTIL AFTER THE PIZZA IS COOKED. It will turn BLACK if you do this which is a terrible waste!
  7. Bake pizzas for 7-9 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and add basil and balsamic vinegar glaze (optional).
  9. Satisfy your pizza craving and use up those leftovers!