What’s Cookin’ : March Edition

By Lena Tinker, Arts&Life Editor

“What’s Cookin” is our newest monthly column in which your Clarion staff will share old and new recipes to let you know what’s poppin’ in the kitchen. I’m excited to kick off this tradition with a recipe for March that has been in my family for decades.

23 years ago, when my parents were in the process of creating their wedding menu, they decided they wanted fresh pasta with pesto. My grandfather knew the owner of a neighborhood Italian restaurant, which is sadly now closed. My grandpa managed to get the pesto recipe from the owners, and ever since, this particular recipe has been adopted into my family. 

Although I never was able to go to this little Italian restaurant, the recipe is still alive with me in a red and white tiled kitchen, clipping leaves from our basil plant while listening to some old record, blanching the the leaves and dumping the hot water into the kitchen sink. It has become a Tinker tradition, whether on holidays or simply for a weekday dinner, to cook up a batch of this pesto. As the steam fills the windows on some cold March evening at the end of winter, the smell of a rich and flavorful pesto wafts throughout the house, and the history of this recipe can live on.

There are many accompaniments to this recipe, but I want to share a dish my family created a few years back. We call them Quinoa Bowls, and they pair perfectly with the scrumptious pesto you can soon be making. 




  • 4 cups basil, stems removed
  • 5 cups water
  • 7 ½ tablespoons of pine nuts (or substitute pecans)
  • 2 ½ cloves finely chopped garlic
  • Salt, to taste 
  • 1 ¼ cups parmigiano
  • 1 ¼ cups olive oil
  1. Blanch the basil for one minute, either fully or in batches, in a pot of boiling water which covers the basil entirely
  2. Place the blanched basil onto a plate prepared with paper towels or a kitchen towel, and lightly dry
  3. Place the pine nuts (or pecans) into a cuisinart blender, and pulse until finely ground
  4. Add the blanched basil, salt, and garlic, pulsing until just combined
  5. Add in the cheese and olive oil in 4 batches, and pulse until well combined, but DO NOT OVERMIX



  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 4 cups water
  1. Place quinoa, after rinsing, into a rice cooker
  2. Pour the 4 cups of water into the rice cooker and allow to cook fully


  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 ½ cup chunked mozzarella cheese
  • Your freshly made pesto
  • Chicken 
  • Arugula or a different type of green
  • Other favorite vegetables will also go nicely, or you can keep it simple with the basic recipe provided above


  1. Place the quinoa in bowl once done, and add the pesto, fully mixing
  2. Then add your desired amount of tomato and mozzarella, and any other add-ins you would like
  3. Enjoy! 


I hope you can enjoy this recipe, and all those to come. I’m excited to come back to you in a few months with a new recipe to try! I hope you will look forward to our April edition of What’s Cookin’ with the iconic Maddie Sweet, our news editor, who will be bringing us the first recipe of our spring season! Until then, lots of love from the Clarion staff!