50 Pesto Recipes

Try a fresh take on the classic!

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Insert and Spread_ 50 Pestos

Insert and Spread_ 50 Pestos

From left: Kale-Mint Pesto (No. 14), Roasted Red Pepper Pesto (No. 23) and Carrot Pesto (No. 18)

Photo by: YUNHEE KIM

YUNHEE KIM

From left: Kale-Mint Pesto (No. 14), Roasted Red Pepper Pesto (No. 23) and Carrot Pesto (No. 18)

Pesto Tips

  • Toast the nuts to bring out their flavor: Heat them in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly golden and fragrant. Let cool before pureeing.
  • Loosely pack fresh herbs in your measuring cup. If using leafy herbs like parsley or cilantro, include the thin tender stems, too.
  • To emulsify the pesto, add the oil gradually: Keep the blender or food processor running while you pour the oil in a slow, steady stream.
  • Refrigerate leftover pesto up to 5 days or freeze up to 1 month. (Each recipe makes 1 to 2 cups.)
Insert and Spread_ 50 Pestos

Insert and Spread_ 50 Pestos

Classic Basil (No. 1)

Photo by: YUNHEE KIM

YUNHEE KIM

Classic Basil (No. 1)

1. Classic Basil Puree 4 cups fresh basil, 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts, 1 garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

2. Corn-Basil Puree 1 1/2 cups fresh corn, 1 cup fresh basil, 1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds, 1 garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

3. Tomato-Basil Puree 1 heaping cup cherry tomatoes, 1 cup each fresh basil and parsley, 1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds, 1 garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

4. Sun-Dried Tomato Puree 2 cups each fresh basil and parsley, 1/3 cup each toasted pine nuts and chopped sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed), 1 garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon each grated lemon zest, red pepper flakes and kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

5. Puttanesca Make Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto (No. 4), adding 6 anchovy fillets to the food processor; stir in 1/3 cup roughly chopped pitted Kalamata olives.

6. Tamarind-Tomato Saute 1 chopped shallot and 1 tablespoon each chopped garlic and chopped peeled ginger in olive oil until softened. Add 1 chopped tomato, 2 tablespoons tamarind paste and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt; cook until the tomato softens. Let cool slightly, then puree with 1/4 cup each fresh mint and cilantro and 2 tablespoons each toasted cashews and cashew butter. With the machine running, gradually add 1/4 cup olive oil.

7. Vietnamese Puree 6 cups fresh mint, 2 tablespoons each chopped peeled ginger and fish sauce, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 garlic clove and the grated zest and juice of 1 lime. With the machine running, gradually add 1/4 cup grapeseed oil.

Insert and Spread_ 50 Pestos

Insert and Spread_ 50 Pestos

Thai Peanut Pesto (no. 8)

Photo by: YUNHEE KIM

YUNHEE KIM

Thai Peanut Pesto (no. 8)

8. Thai Peanut Puree 3 cups coarsely chopped outer romaine leaves, 1 cup fresh cilantro, 1/3 cup roasted peanuts, 2 tablespoons each chopped peeled ginger and Thai sweet chili sauce, 1 garlic clove and the juice of 1 lime. With the machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil.

9. BLT Cook 4 bacon slices in a skillet until crisp; transfer to a paper towel–lined plate. Pour the drippings into a measuring cup and add enough olive oil to yield 1/4 cup. Puree the bacon with 3 cups chopped escarole, 1 cup fresh basil, 2 chopped sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed), 1 garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add the drippings mixture. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

10. Tomatillo Broil 4 tomatillos (husked and rinsed), turning, until charred; let cool. Puree the tomatillos with 1/3 cup each fresh cilantro and toasted pepitas, 2 garlic cloves, 1 seeded jalapeno, the grated zest and juice of 1 lime and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup peanut oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Cotija cheese.

11. Artichoke Puree 1 cup each thawed frozen artichoke hearts, fresh parsley and fresh mint, 1/3 cup toasted walnuts, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated pecorino.

12. Truffle-Arugula Puree 4 cups baby arugula, 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts, 1 garlic clove, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated truffle pecorino.

13. Kale Puree 4 cups kale leaves, 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts, 1 garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

Insert and Spread_ 50 Pestos

Insert and Spread_ 50 Pestos

Kale-Mint Pesto (No. 14)

Photo by: YUNHEE KIM

YUNHEE KIM

Kale-Mint Pesto (No. 14)

14. Kale-Mint Puree 3 cups kale leaves, 1/2 cup each fresh parsley and mint, 1/3 cup toasted blanched almonds, 1 garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

15. Health Nut Puree 3 cups kale leaves, 1/4 cup each toasted walnuts and roasted sunflower seeds, 1 tablespoon each sesame seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds and almond butter, 1 garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil.

16. Cilantro-Pepita Puree 4 cups fresh cilantro, 1/3 cup toasted pepitas, 1 garlic clove, 1 tablespoon sliced pickled jalapenos, the grated zest and juice of 1 lime and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Cotija cheese.

17. Cilantro-Coconut Puree 4 cups fresh cilantro, 3 chopped scallions, 1/3 cup toasted cashews, 1 small seeded jalapeno, 1 garlic clove, 1 tablespoon chopped peeled ginger, the grated zest and juice of 1 lime and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup canned coconut milk.

18. Carrot Puree 1 cup chopped carrots, 1 cup fresh parsley, 1/3 cup toasted cashews, 1 garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

19. Carrot Greens Make Carrot Pesto (No. 18), replacing the parsley with 2 cups roughly chopped carrot greens and the cashews with toasted pistachios.

20. Mint-Pea Puree 1 1/2 cups thawed frozen peas, 1 cup fresh mint, 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts, the grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

21. Mint-Pistachio Puree 2 cups each fresh mint and parsley, 1/2 cup toasted pistachios, the grated zest and juice of 1 small orange and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil.

22. Beet-Hazelnut Puree 1 cup chopped peeled roasted beets, 1/2 cup toasted blanched hazelnuts, 1 garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

23. Roasted Red Pepper Broil 1 halved seeded red bell pepper skin-side up until charred, 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let sit 10 minutes. Remove the charred skin. Puree the red pepper with 1 cup fresh basil, 1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds, 1 garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

24. White Bean–Red Pepper Broil 1 halved seeded bell pepper; peel (see No. 23). Puree the red pepper with one 15-ounce can cannellini beans (drained and rinsed), 3 tablespoons toasted blanched hazelnuts, 2 garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Stir in 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan.

25. Pimiento Cheese Make Roasted Red Pepper Pesto (No. 23), replacing the basil with parsley and the almonds with toasted pecans; pulse in 1 cup grated yellow cheddar instead of the Parmesan.

26. Spicy Eggplant Roast 1 small eggplant (pierced a few times) in a 400 degrees F oven until tender, 25 minutes. Let cool; halve and scoop out the flesh. Puree the flesh with 3 oil-packed Calabrian chiles (stemmed), 1 small roasted red pepper (seeded), 1 cup fresh basil, 1/3 cup each toasted slivered almonds and fresh ricotta, 1 garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated pecorino.

27. Coconut Curry Fry 1 tablespoon each chopped garlic and scallions in 1/4 cup coconut oil until golden; cool. Puree with 4 cups fresh cilantro, 1/4 cup cocktail peanuts, 1 teaspoon each curry powder, grated lime zest and lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Stir in 1 grated tomato.

28. Chimichurri Puree 3 cups fresh parsley, 1/4 cup fresh oregano, 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 3 garlic cloves, 1 chopped shallot, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil.

29. Spicy Jerk Puree 1 cup fresh cilantro, 1/4 cup fresh thyme, 1 bunch chopped scallions, 1/2 cup chopped pineapple, 1/2 to 1 seeded Scotch bonnet chile, the grated zest and juice of 1/2 lime and 1/2 teaspoon each allspice and kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup vegetable oil.

30. Peruvian Spinach Puree 3 cups spinach, 2 cups fresh basil, 2 large jarred ajÍ amarillo peppers (Peruvian chiles), 1/4 cup each toasted pecans and chopped red onion, 1 garlic clove and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/4 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/3 cup each crumbled queso fresco and grated Parmesan.

31. Turkish Puree 1 cup each fresh parsley and cilantro, 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, 1/4 cup each fresh tarragon, dill and chopped red onion, 1 garlic clove, 2 tablespoons pomegranate vinegar, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil.

32. West African Puree 1 cup fresh cilantro, 1/2 cup each chopped scallions and roasted peanuts, 1/3 cup pumpkin puree, 1 small seeded tomato, 1 tablespoon chopped peeled ginger, 2 teaspoons each ground coriander and cider vinegar, a pinch of cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup vegetable oil.

33. Miso-Edamame Puree 1 cup thawed frozen shelled edamame, 1 chopped scallion, 1 garlic clove, 3 tablespoons miso paste, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup water.

34. Scallion-Ginger Puree 2 bunches chopped scallions, 1/4 cup each chopped peeled ginger, sesame seeds and water and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup vegetable oil.

35. Sesame-Seaweed Puree 6 toasted nori sheets, 2 chopped scallions, 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup each vegetable oil and toasted sesame oil and 2 tablespoons each teriyaki sauce and water.

36. Celery Puree 2 cups roughly chopped inner celery stalks and leaves, 1 cup fresh parsley, 1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds, 2 to 4 anchovy fillets, 1 garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

37. Fennel-Pistachio Coarsely chop 1 medium fennel bulb (reserve 1 cup chopped fronds); toss with olive oil. Roast in a 400 degrees F oven until tender, 30 minutes. Let cool. Puree the roasted fennel, reserved fronds, 1/3 cup toasted pistachios, 2 tablespoons each golden raisins and capers, 1 garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

38. Herb–Brown Butter Cook 4 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat until browned, about 7 minutes; cool slightly. Puree 1/2 cup each fresh basil, parsley, tarragon and chopped chives, 1/4 cup toasted blanched hazelnuts, 1 shallot, 3 tablespoons capers and the browned butter. With the machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup olive oil. Pulse in 1/2 cup grated Gouda.

39. French Onion Saute 1 thinly sliced onion and 1 tablespoon fresh thyme in butter over medium heat until caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool; puree with 1 cup fresh parsley, 1 beef bouillon cube and 1 tablespoon water. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Pulse in 1/2 cup grated Gruyère.

40. Olive Puree 1 cup each pitted green olives and fresh parsley, 1/3 cup toasted pistachios, 1 garlic clove, 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary and the grated zest and juice of 1 lemon. With the machine running, gradually add 1/4 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

41. Cauliflower-Olive Puree 2 cups cauliflower florets, 1 cup fresh parsley, 1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds, 2 tablespoons each capers and chopped green olives, 1 garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated pecorino.

42. Roasted Cauliflower Roast 2 cups cauliflower florets in a 400 degrees F oven until tender, 30 minutes; cool. Make Cauliflower-Olive Pesto (No. 41), using the roasted cauliflower and pulsing in 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese. Replace the pecorino with Parmesan.

43. Broccoli–Smoked Cheddar Blanch 2 cups broccoli florets (along with the sliced stems) in salted boiling water, 4 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Puree with 1 cup fresh basil, 1/3 cup roasted sunflower seeds, 1 garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Pulse in 1/2 cup shredded smoked cheddar.

44. Broccoli Rabe Blanch 1 chopped small bunch broccoli rabe in salted boiling water, 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Puree the broccoli rabe, 1/2 cup toasted blanched hazelnuts, 2 garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon each grated lemon zest and kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

45. Roasted Garlic Put 2 heads garlic (tops cut off) on separate sheets of foil; drizzle with olive oil and wrap. Roast in a 400 degrees F oven until soft, 35 minutes. Let cool slightly; squeeze the garlic out of the skins. Puree 2 cups fresh basil, 1/3 cup toasted walnuts, the roasted garlic and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

46. Smoky Mushroom Saute 12 ounces sliced mixed mushrooms in 2 tablespoons olive oil until browned and tender, about 8 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon smoked paprika and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Let cool; puree with 1 cup fresh parsley, 1/3 cup toasted walnuts and 1 tablespoon tomato paste. With the machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

47. Squash–Pine Nut Process 1 cup each chopped raw kabocha or butternut squash (6 ounces) and fresh parsley, 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts, 1 garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated pecorino.

Insert and Spread_ 50 Pestos

Insert and Spread_ 50 Pestos

Lemon Zucchini Pesto (No. 48)

Photo by: YUNHEE KIM

YUNHEE KIM

Lemon Zucchini Pesto (No. 48)

48. Lemon Zucchini Puree 1 small chopped zucchini, 1 cup fresh mint, 1/3 cup toasted blanched hazelnuts, 1 garlic clove, the grated zest of 1 lemon, the juice of 2 lemons and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

49. Avocado Puree 1 chopped avocado, 2 cups fresh basil, 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts, 1 garlic clove, the grated zest and juice of 1 lemon and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/4 cup olive oil.

50. Hawaiian Puree 3 cups fresh cilantro, 3 chopped scallions, 1/3 cup each toasted macadamia nuts and unsweetened shredded coconut, 2 tablespoons chopped peeled ginger, 1 garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. With the machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons coconut oil.

Photographs by Yunhee Kim

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