Welcome to Cooking Skool, a four-week series designed for young cooks. Each week serves up three themed recipes and how-to videos. Your kitchen guide is LNP | LancasterOnline food writer Kim O’Donnel, who walks you through every step of the way. Together, we’ll try new things, get creative and learn some math, science and history in between. Belly up to the counter and join us for our kitchen adventure!

We know it has been a REALLY long time since you ate in the school lunchroom. It might even feel like forever. On the other hand, a long staycation means maybe you have had more time to whip up a few lunchtime concoctions. While many of you were home schooling, many adults (including yours truly) have been home working.

Lunch is my way to take a break, step away from a screen and recharge for the second part of my day. This week, we are serving up three of my favorite dishes for lunch, or even a late afternoon snack. On the menu: Hummus, Basil Pesto and Guacamole.

Check out last week's recipes and videos:

Even though we might eat it as a dip, pesto is considered a sauce in Italy, where it comes from. It was invented more than 400 years ago in Liguria, a region in the north.

The word pesto comes from pestare, the Italian word that means “to pound or crush.” Originally, the basil would be crushed with a stone tool called a mortar and pestle to make the pesto.


Basil is a tropical plant that grows in warm climates. It does not like the cold. It is in the same plant family as mint and rosemary and it is very aromatic, almost like perfume.

Tool Kit:

Small pot; 2 medium bowls; 1 small bowl; sharp knife; measuring cup and spoons; pot holders or hot pads; strainer or colander; food processor or heavy-duty blender; rubber stirring spatula.

Basil Pesto

Makes about 1 cup.


2 heaping cups basil leaves

1/4 cup walnuts, almonds or pine nuts

1 or 2 cloves garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup olive oil

Optional: 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Pull the basil leaves from the stems and place in a 2-cup measure until it is tightly packed.

Measure out 2 cups of water and pour into the pot. Place the pot on top of the stove and set the heat to high (and ask for help as needed). Bring the water to a boil.

Meanwhile, add some ice to one of the medium bowls, then cover with water and place on the counter. Place the strainer or colander in the other medium bowl.

Blanch the basil: When the water is boiling, carefully add the basil and set your timer for 20 seconds. Turn off the heat. With a potholder, grab the handle, transfer the pot to the sink, pouring into the strainer. Be careful of any rising steam. Lift the colander and carefully transfer the basil to the bowl of ice water. Let cool for about 1 minute.

With your hands, lift the basil from the water and squeeze it like crazy until it is really dry. It will look like a shrunken green ball.

Place the nuts, garlic and the salt in the food processor or blender and whiz until ground up. Add the shrunken basil and blend again. Add the oil and whiz until the mixture is creamy and well blended. You may need to stop and scrape the sides of the bowl a few times to get everything mixed.

With a rubber spatula, scoop the pesto out of the food

processor and into the other bowl. Stir in the cheese. Taste for salt and add a few pinches more if needed.

Serve with crackers, carrot sticks or as part of a pita pizza, stirred into a bowl of macaroni or come up with your own creation.

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