Artichoke-Lemon Pesto with Capellini for a Light Summer Dinner

What's Going on Today: Boating, grilling, napping. Quick stop by the JMcLaughlin trunk show. Ahhh, vacation.
Naptime Goals: Make an easy Artichoke-Lemon Pesto to toss with pasta for dinner, batch of Megan's Brownies.
Tonight's Menu: Grilled Chicken, Artichoke-Lemon Pesto with Capellini, brownies.
Parenting Lesson of the Day: JMcLaughlin clothes are the ultimate Mom uniform.

Ironically, today I am not writing about a seasonal recipe. Well, I guess it's seasonal in the sense that it's light and lemony, but it is not made from any farmer's market ingredients. At all. And you know what? I am not going to worry about it. I made this while I was on vacation and was in the mood for a twist on my regular pesto. My Mom has plenty of it in her freezer and I was craving something new and exciting. But something that I could make during naptime and didn't require strenuous stirring over open flames.

After spying a jar of Artichoke-Lemon Pesto in the store recently I thought it time to give it a try myself. Sometimes I'll just go ahead and buy the jar of something I want to taste, but in this case it seemed insanely overpriced. Why would I pay ten bucks for something I could make at home for two?

When my daughter went down for her nice long nap - children nap so well on vacation - I pulled out the processor and went to work. Using my regular pesto recipe as a guideline I matched portions of main ingredient (artichoke hearts) with the rest of the add-in's: pine nuts, cheese, garlic, lemon and olive oil.  A few pulses and a pinch of salt later, voila, artichoke-lemon pesto! Since I had set aside an hour for my own nap I quickly scooped the pesto into a container, rinsed out the Cuisinart and bolted for the hammock. That evening we enjoyed an easy, fun dinner, the main component of which I had pulled together in ten minutes during naptime.

Artichoke-Lemon Pesto

1 14oz can artichoke hearts, drained.
½ c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ c. pine nuts
Zest of 1 medium lemon
Juice of 1 medium lemon
2 cloves garlic, peeled
½ c. good quality olive oil
Pinch or two of Kosher salt
1.     Add the artichoke hearts, pine nuts, lemon juice, zest, garlic and salt to a food processor fitted with a blade. Pulse about 10-12 times until the ingredients come together, but are not completely smooth.
2.     Pour the olive oil into the paste in a steady stream while pulsing until it comes together into a thick paste.
3.     Store in the fridge until ready to use.
Naptime Notes:
Naptime Serving Ideas: This pesto could be used several ways. In addition to tossing it with hot pasta, it would be wonderful spread on crostini and served as an appetizer, or used as a dip for vegetables.
Naptime Stopwatch: Making this takes 5 minutes. At the most.
Naptime Reviews: My daughter loved her pasta with the “yummy sauce” and we all devoured it. Next on my list is spreading it on crostini.


  1. That sounds FABULOUS!!!!!!!! Love light dishes that pack on the flavor....this looks like one of those meals. What did you end up serving it with? Hope you enjoyed your vacation!

  2. Thanks Lauren! We served it with grilled chicken. So, yes, the meal was light and very flavorful - perfect for summer and healthy eating!

  3. Yay! So happy you liked the brownies, Kelsey!

  4. What is the best way to make this if a certain someone does not own a food processor?

  5. @Megan, your brownies ROCK! @Kim, good question. Chop the artichokes and garlic together very finely. Then, crush the pine nuts with a heavy object and mash them into the artichoke/garlic mixture. Try and do this until it become a little pasty and incorporated. A back of a heavy spoon or ladle might work well. Then work in the olive oil, lemon zest and juice and salt and pepper. It doesn't have to be a uniform paste so don't sweat it. As long as it can rest on a piece of bread or be twirled into pasta you've got it!

  6. I love this recipe! This looks so easy and delicious. I can't wait to try it.