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The Endlessly Adaptable Pesto Recipe

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Pesto can be made from any number of fresh herbs, greens, nuts, seeds, and more. Rather than get stuck in a rut, use this endlessly adaptable pesto recipe to make the most of those fresh herbs and greens this spring.

A jar of pesto sitting on a table in front of chard leaves.

Pesto is most commonly associated with basil and pine nuts. Indeed that’s an amazing combination worth eating, however pesto comes in numerous flavors and while it might seem mysterious – it’s not.

The Herbs

Use any fresh herbs or combination that might be on hand and fresh. It’s also more than okay to use a mixture of greens and herbs. Think arugula and basil or kale and mint or spinach, oregano, and thyme – truly any combination that sounds delicious to you and is fresh and available.

This a great place to maximize homegrown harvests, by using garden bits that might be overwhelming or otherwise wasted. Think weeds, like dandelion, or the greens from radishes and other plants.

A basket of fresh lovage.

The Nuts

Traditional pesto uses pine nuts, which tend to cost 2 arms and a leg these days. If you have a good, frugal source by all means use it. If pine nuts are a little much for your personal budget, feel free to substitute any nut that is more affordable.

Seeds can also be used with stellar results – sunflower, pumpkin, even sesame. Even if the budget can afford pine nuts, switch up the nuts now and then for a different flavor that might even be tastier.

Preserving Pesto

Pesto should not be canned, However, pesto can be preserved through several different freezing methods.

Simply put the pesto into freezer containers, leaving 1″ headspace and freeze. Or freeze into ice cube trays.

Pesto ready for freezing

Simply thaw and use as desired all winter long. Check out this great idea for making pesto right in the jar and freezing it in small batches.

How to Use Pesto

Pesto is, of course, amazing on pasta but it’s also incredible mixed in with rice, slathered on meat and baked, mixed into soups and much more. Get creative and mix into most any grain or cooked vegetable for a kick of flavor. Try slathering in on bread for a tasty spread or using it instead of tomato sauce on pizza.

Make the most of fresh herbs this spring and summer with this endlessly adaptable pesto recipe that uses any number of nuts, seeds, greens, and herbs.

Give boiled potatoes a kick by adding pesto.

A grilled cheese with pesto, broccoli, and mushrooms is sure to be a hit.

Bake eggs in pesto for a flavorful breakfast.

Roll the pesto with some cheese into bread rolls for an amazing side dish.

Add pesto with greens and grains for a filling, delicious salad.

Yield: Approximately 1 Cup

The Endlessly Adaptable Pesto Recipe

Pesto in a jar with leaves.

Make the most of fresh herbs this spring and summer with this endlessly adaptable pesto recipe that uses any number of nuts, seeds, greens, and herbs.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • ½ to ¾ Cup Oil (Olive, Walnut, Almond, etc.)
  • 3 Cups Fresh Herbs (or mix herbs and greens)
  • ½ Cup Nuts or Seeds (Walnuts, Pine Nuts, Sunflower Seeds, etc.)
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt (more or less to taste)
  • Pinch of Ground Black Pepper (more or less to taste)
  • ¼ Cup Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese, optional

Instructions

  1. Put 1/2 cup of olive oil and the remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree. If the pesto seems to thick drizzle in a little more oil as necessary to keep it moving well. The water content in the greens and herbs will determine how much additional may be needed.

Notes

Make the most of fresh herbs this spring and summer with this endlessly adaptable pesto recipe that uses any number of nuts, seeds, greens, and herbs.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Specific Recipes

I know there are some folks who don’t like to wing it and for those folks, check out these amazing pesto recipes:

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D K Wolford

Monday 5th of July 2021

Hi Kathie, I thought I'd share my very first time making pesto. I love the stuff just never made my own before. I am trying very hard to preserve everything from my garden. We didn't do as well this year, it was very wet and a lot rotted on the plants. I did get a large amount of basil which is good because it was very dry last year and I didn't get much and I also didn't known how to save it properly, thanks to you, now I know. Anyhow on to the pesto.

I printed out the recipe, gathered up everything I needed and sat my self down on my kitchen stool (couldn't reach anything from my wheelchair, I currently have a broken foot so no walking). I started by pouring in the oil and then all the rest of the ingredients. First wrong move. Should have put in nuts and garlic first to get them ground up. Then the 30+ year old food processor I had acquired from my mother-in-law wasn't working right. Had to make adjustment. Then I discovered the center post was cracked and the oil was leaking out. So, I switched to my blender, works the same right? Put in oil, then all the rest of the stuff. Blender cutter wouldn't move. Too much stuff, Poured it out into a bowl and put just a little at a time in it. Well, it was working but very slowly. I kept having to push everything into the blade. First I used a rubber spatula but I'd nick the blade and was worried I'd get rubber in my pesto. So I switched to a wooden spoon. It took a long time and the nuts were still chunky but I pronounced it done and took a taste. OMG it was delicious. So, one batch down and ready to go on. In the meantime, my husband is laughing at me. "What??" "I see you working your hiney off and you don't seem to be getting any where." In my frustration I forgot to put the lid back on before I started the blender, of course garlic pieces, nuts and oil soaked basil went flying (husband rolling on the floor now in hysterics), I wiped myself off leaving the determination clearly on my face, covered the blender and continued. Basil not getting mixed in so I used the spatula (forgot why I didn't think I should use it) to tamp it down. Oops got too close and the machine ate the end of my spatula. Darn. Hubby trying to console me said not to worry, if he couldn't chew it at east he'd know what it was. Continuing on, I used the wooden spoon to push the basil down and Yep that's right, I got too close to the blade and it ate my wooden spoon, I mean it cut it in three pieces. The handle smacked me in the nose and the other pieces went in different directions. OK, I'm done, lunch time. I'm gonna go shopping for a new blender, food processor or what ever to make sure that I won't be required to stick anything inside. Any suggestions?

Dee

PS Hubby is now calling me "The Pesto Kidd"

Kathie Lapcevic

Tuesday 6th of July 2021

Oh my goodness, what an adventure! I have a Vitamix blender and it's pretty awesome but expensive. I've been eyeing a new KitchenAid Food Processor too - I have a small, old 4-cup one that is about to give up... Good luck and you are an inspiration in determination.

chil

Wednesday 5th of May 2021

Just got a bunch of organic carrots and the tops were green and fresh. I made pesto and it is good but a bit strong. I added some parsley to tame it down a bit and it is delicious.

Kathie Lapcevic

Thursday 6th of May 2021

Oh that sounds delish!

Jean

Tuesday 9th of June 2020

Sounds like a plan in the near future. Might use pistachios or cashews. Will have to forge soon. Blessings to you.

C.

Monday 16th of May 2016

Spread on salmon, then bake. Delicious :)

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