Mary's Family Kitchen

Good Eats and Fun Treats from the Mountains of North Jersey



Fresh Faboulous Pesto from the Garden

From this…


To this…

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Homemade pesto from the garden!

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I love pesto! Its really a bright green thing of beauty. All of these ingredients can stand alone, so combined together, it’s a match made in heaven! The fresh taste (not to mention the smell) of basil blends with just a few simple ingredients, and in 5 minutes you have a quick and easy dish that’s not just delicious but versatile too. Right now with all the fresh produce available to us, why not take advantage and make this fresh, nutty no-cook sauce that has it all.

Today at Rogowski Farm in Pine Island, N.Y., I picked up some gorgeous fresh pepper greens:


And some Basil from my container garden (plus a little extra from the farm):


Its bright green color and peppery taste got me thinking: While I’m making basil pesto, why don’t I try the same recipe with pepper greens?

I decided to use toasted pecans in place of pine nuts for a different taste. Well, perfection can’t even describe it. Pesto doesn’t have to be just basil! It’s extra peppery bite tasted spicy and fresh. As I was tasting it (for quality control of course) I nearly finished half of it! Very addictive.

So if you have extra herbs or greens, using this simple recipe mix and match them along with different nuts and grating cheeses and you will have on hand your own truly unique pesto. I believe kale and arugula pesto are in my future!

On a side note, If a green is particularly pungent, I would probably mix it with a milder green such as parsley.

Fresh Fabulous Pesto


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Time to make the pesto!! 🍃🍃🍃🍃🍃🍃🍃🍃

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Makes approximately 2 cups.

Recipe can be halved for a smaller batch.

  • 8 cups fresh basil, cleaned and dried
  • 6 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 cup pine nuts ( toast if you want a slightly nuttier flavor)
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup pecorino romano cheese grated ( I like  Locatelli )


Food processor or blender

In the bowl of the food processor put all the basil, garlic, pine nuts, salt and cheese.


Fit lid on top . With the blender or processor running, slowly pour the oil through the top in a stream. Process until the oil is emulsified with the basil. That’s all there is to it!


A few tips~ Add a little less oil to make your pesto great for spreading on  sandwiches. Its fabulous with grilled chicken and fish. It’s equally wonderful mixed with a little mayo as a dip but, my current favorite way to eat it is to spread it on warm toasted Italian bread with a slice of fresh mozzarella and a thin slice of tomato sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. One last tip, to toss with pasta or to stir into soups or even Sunday Sauce use the full cup of oil.

Pesto will turn brown fairly quickly, so immediately use or pour into a container, drizzle the top with olive oil to keep air out and the vibrant green color in.

I usually store my pesto in plastic containers. This year, my friend and fellow foodie (and fabulous photographer) Tracy Bodoni O’Connell (from Tracy O’Connell Photography on Facebook); shared with me this great idea of storing and freezing my pesto in mason jars! Genius! The jars are freezer safe (Check the brand you are using before freezing) and does a fabulous job of keeping air out. I also love this idea because it not only looks beautiful, but it also can turn into a great hostess gift that you have on hand. A little ribbon or raffia and you have an instant gift.


As I’m writing this post I have these beauties looking at me!


They started here at the farm:

And now, I get to enjoy them everyday. They may be my favorite flower!



Fig Glazed Roasted Beet Tart with Whipped Bleu Cheese and Rosemary

I’ve been going to farmer’s markets for years. I am lucky to live in such a rural area, rich with hundreds of acres of rolling hills dotted with farms. The beauty of my town and its surrounding area never bores me, even after 32 years. I never tire of it.

This year I joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  I go every week to my beloved Rogowski Farm in Pine Island, N.Y., in the Black Dirt region, to pick up the freshest produce you have ever seen. As I drive there I’m always so excited to see what Cheryl will have waiting for me. It’s different every week. For me it’s like Christmas in July!

This week one of her many goodies were beets. I decided these beauties needed to be showcased in a gorgeous tart.

Before we get to that, look at this view. I am a lucky girl:

The many other goodies I picked up:

Alright, now to the recipe:

Fig Glazed Roasted Beet Tart with Whipped Bleu Cheese and Rosemary


  • 3-4 beets, greens cut off (Save to cook them for later – They’re delicious) roasted, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 package Puff Pastry, thawed (I use Pepperidge Farm)
  • 1/2-cup bleu cheese, crumbled
  • 8 ozs. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons of half and half
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2-cup fig preserves
  • fresh rosemary, chopped for garnish


Roast the Beets

On a parchment lined baking sheet place your scrubbed and trimmed beets.Drizzle with olive oil.  Place another sheet of parchment paper over beets, and fold parchment paper to make a packet. Roast at 350*F. for 1-2 hours according to the size of the beets. Roast until fork tender. Remove from oven, Set aside till cool enough to handle. When cooled you can peel the skins off easily with a paring knife. Slice into 1/2″ rounds and set aside.

Make the Cream Cheese

While the beets are baking lets get the whipped cream cheese done. In a medium bowl combine the bleu cheese, cream cheese, half and half and minced garlic. Whip with a mixer on medium speed till combined well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

*If you have a cracker nearby, smear some of this whipped deliciousness on that for a tasty treat.

Put it all together

In a small saucepan heat the fig preserves till melted and set aside. Now for assembly.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Unfold the puff pastry onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. If using a tart pan, lay the puff pastry on top, press into tart pan and trim the excess pastry off. If you don’t have a tart pan you can make it into a rustic tart, sprinkle the cookie sheet with a bit of flour, roll out the pastry into a 9-by-11-inch rectangle. Score (don’t cut through) a half an inch from the edge, all the way around. When assembling, leave this part clear of filling and as it bakes it will make an edge.

Fill the pastry with approximately 1/2″ of whipped cheese mixture, next,  layer the beets in any pattern you wish. Brush the top with the melted fig preserves. Put into hot oven.

Bake till the pastry is golden, approximately 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and brush another layer of fig preserves on top, sprinkle with chopped rosemary. Let cool slightly. Remove tart from pan onto serving platter, and garnish with rosemary if desired.

Because this tart can be served warm or at room temperature, it makes a wonderful appetizer for entertaining, especially at the holidays, – the colors are so festive! It also makes a great lunch with a side salad.


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