6 am tomato sauce

6 AM Tomato Sauce| theclevercarrot.com

I’ve always been an early riser.

When the birds are up I’m up, and there’s nothing more satisfying than basking in a full 60 minutes to myself before the rest of the house rolls out of bed and asks me for breakfast… and socks.

Morning’s are when I get to create!

In fact, I learned something interesting about myself; if I don’t allow myself some ‘playtime’ in the morning regardless of how much work I have to do, or where I need to be, I’m totally cranky for the rest of the day until I get it out of my system. I’m like a pressure cooker.

It could be as simple as writing a few pages in my notebook (I do this every morning, religiously), making a batch of sourdough, or even lighting a darn candle while stirring my oatmeal.

It’s still dark at 6 AM, you know.

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10 minute sun gold salsa {for the freezer}

10 minute sun gold salsa {for the freezer} | theclevercarrot.com

We’ve got a ton of sun gold tomatoes growing in our garden at the moment.

Our neighbor gifted us 2 plants, and they’ve been shooting up like weeds! Next to the weeds!

Admittedly, I’m not the best at keeping a garden (it’s like having one extra room to clean). But I’m amazed at their resilience. Seeing homegrown tomatoes produce with such abundance triggers my seasonal nesting mode, and in this case, it’s all about making fresh salsa for the freezer.

Hands on time = 10 minutes….

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fresh basil pesto

fresh basil pesto | The Clever Carrot

My herb garden is growing out of control.

The weather here in NY has been soooo weird lately; crazy rain, crazy mosquitoes, and now crazy heat! My once little herb garden has finally taken off and I don’t know what to do with it all! When in doubt, I throw everything into a blender and make pesto.

I feel like pesto is one of those things that you either love or hate. Me personally, I happen to love pesto. I grew up eating this glorious green stuff and to boycott its existence would go against my DNA (that’s the Italian in me…) Our family recipe uses a combination of basil and parsley, and instead of pine nuts (too $$$) I use almonds or walnuts. This is a ‘no-cook’ sauce, so using good quality ingredients will really make a difference.

Trust me.

fresh basil pesto | The Clever Carrot

If you’ve never made pesto before, I am going to share a little secret with you (I feel like I always say this…) You MUST blanch your basil. Why? Your pesto will turn brown if you don’t. I used to think this was a waste of time but it’s really not. You have to boil the water for the pasta anyway, so you might as well blanch your basil right before it goes in. It literally takes 3 seconds. Basil bruises very easily and this will help to retain it’s bright green color. Cool, right?

Freeze any leftovers. You know the drill…

fresh basil pesto | The Clever Carrot


  • I like to use small, tender basil leaves for their sweet flavor. The larger ones tend to take on a liquorice/anise flavor.
  • For a smooth pesto, puree your sauce in a blender. Use a food processor or mortar & pestle for a more rustic texture.
  • Blanching basil will subsequently add more moisture to your recipe. Make sure to squeeze out any excess water before blending. If your sauce is too loose, the consistency can be corrected with additional parmesan cheese and/or nuts.
  • Freeze any leftover pesto in ice cube trays, and then transfer to Ziploc bags. Defrost overnight (in the refrigerator) or warm gently. Frozen pesto will keep for 3-6 months.
fresh basil pesto
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 1 cup
  • 2 c. basil, reserving a couple of leaves for garnish
  • 1 c. parsley
  • ½ -1 garlic clove
  • ½ c. pine nuts, almonds or walnuts
  • ½ c. ground parmesan cheese
  • ½ c. good quality olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 lb. linguine fini (thin linguine) or thin spaghetti
  1. Toast the nuts: In a small skillet, gently toast the nuts over low heat until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
  2. Make an ice bath: Grab a large bowl and fill with water and ice. Set aside.
  3. Blanch the basil: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place your basil leaves in a small strainer and gently lower into the water. Blanch for 3 seconds and then remove it. Immediately shock in an ice bath and squeeze out any excess moisture. If you're serving this with pasta, bring the water back to a boil and cook your pasta according to the package instructions.
  4. Make the pesto: To a blender or small food processor, add the blanched basil, parsley, ½ clove of garlic, parmesan cheese, and toasted nuts. Slowly stream in the olive oil and process until smooth. If your mixture seems thick, add additional olive oil until you get the right consistency.
  5. Give your pesto a taste. Add more garlic (if you'd like) and a good amount of salt and pepper to taste. You don't want it to be bland. If it seems a bit loose, transfer the sauce to a bowl and stir in additional parmesan cheese.
  6. Drain the pasta reserving a mug filled with starchy cooking liquid. Use this to loosen the sauce if necessary.
  7. To serve: Top the pasta with pesto, reserved basil leaves, and extra parmesan cheese.
  8. Serve immediately.