Today I decided to make pasta and chicken with pesto for dinner.  I had all the ingredients waiting at home in the fridge, and as soon as I got home I set to work, anticipating the deliciousness of fresh summer pesto.  I grated the parmesan in the food processor, which, looking back, was my mistake.  When I put the olive oil, garlic and pine nuts in the food processor bowl with the cheese, suddenly the blade wouldn’t spin.  I tried moving everything to the blender, but that didn’t work — everything just sat in a leafy, gummy mess in the bottom of the jar.

So, I took a close look at the food processor, and discovered that a tiny piece of plastic 1/8″ x 1/2″ had broken off the lid of the bowl.  [Click on the image for a larger view]  This crucial little part is what sticks down through the top of the blade assembly, pressing the axle down to engage it and make the blade spin.  It’s a clever little safety device, actually.  If the lid isn’t securely locked onto the bowl, the blades won’t spin so you don’t chop your fingers into a million little tiny bits.

Except now it wouldn’t chop my basil and pine nuts into a million little tiny bits either.

I contemplated the hour or more I might spend looking online for a replacement lid, plus the $20 or so it would cost to order the part and the week or so it would take to arrive, and decided that was not acceptable.  I wanted my pesto TODAY.

So I took a close look again.  All I needed was a way to get the remainder of that little tiny piece of plastic out of the lid, and then replace it with something that would push the axle down.  Like, maybe, a bolt.

And that’s when my pesto-making adventure got interesting.  Look at this picture.  See anything unusual?  Yep, out came the power drill, my new T-handle ratchet screwdriver and a 1″ stove bolt left over from installing handles on my kitchen cabinets three weeks ago.  First, I checked to make sure that the bolt was small enough to fit into the hole on the top of the blade assembly.  Then (after covering all the food in case bits of plastic went flying), I drilled out the remaining piece of plastic.  I screwed the bolt into the hole, popped the lid onto the food processor bowl and hit the switch.  VROOOMMMMM!!!!!!!  It worked!!!!!!

“YES!”, I yelled, “I ROCK!!!!!!!” And then I finished making my pesto.  And that was the best damn pesto I’ve ever eaten.


Pesto a la Power Drill

1 bunch fresh basil, washed, leaves removed from stems  (Save one small sprig for each serving, as garnish.)
1 clove garlic
2-3 oz. parmesan cheese, grated (on the higher side if the bunch of basil is large, or you just like more cheese)
2-4 T. pine nuts (ditto)

Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 lb. pasta
2-3 chicken breasts

Put on a medium-size pan of salted water to boil.  When the water starts to boil, add the pasta and cook until tender.

To cook the chicken, you can either broil it 6 minutes on each side, then cut up and mix with the cooked pasta and pesto.  OR, you can cut up the raw chicken into 1″ cubes and boil it in the pasta water.  Remove when cooked (3-4 minutes) and then put in the pasta to cook.

Put the pine nuts, garlic and grated parmesan in the bowl of the food processor.  Start the food processor, then slowly pour in olive oil until the mixture is thick but moving smoothly in the bowl.  With the motor still running, add handfuls of basil leaves through the chute.  Continue processing until all basil is mixed in and the pesto is thick and creamy (the consistency of yoghurt).  Add salt and pepper to taste.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it.  Mix the pesto, chicken and pasta in a bowl.  (You might have some leftover pesto, unless you like a lot of pesto on your pasta.)  Garnish each serving with a sprig of basil.  Makes 2-4 servings, depending on who’s eating.