O Pesto, Prince of Pasta Sauces, Holy Anointer of Chicken, Most Herbacious Condiment! Italian grandmothers + everyone else have been making this stuff with basil since the world was born. But who says we have to keep doing it that way?
As long as you have all the basic components that make pesto *pesto* (cheese, nuts, olive oil, garlic), the central vegetable can be almost anything you want. And you can even skip the cheese or the nuts if they don’t fit into your personal diet plan. Have at it!
1. Garlic Scapes
Recipe: Spaghetti With Parsley Pesto
Parsley deserves more pesto cred than it gets; it actually keeps its pretty bright green color much longer than basil.
Recipe: Pasta with Fresh Corn Pesto
Using fresh sweet corn instead of green stuff (and cooking it in bacon fat, because why not) makes an amazing, creamy sauce. TRY IT.
If there’s anything you can’t put kale in, we’re not aware of it.
5. Pea Shoots
If you don’t have any scapes, you can swap in a couple cloves of regular garlic + more pea shoots.
Recipe: Beet Pesto Pasta
Not as dangerous as it looks! This tastes good and—cool trick—will turn your pasta crazy bright pink.
Recipe: Mint-Pistachio Pesto
N.B. Mint is pretty powerful, so use this stuff judiciously.
Recipe: Spinach Basil Pesto
A gentle option. You can choose to combine with some herbs (or not).
Recipe: Roasted Red Pepper Carrot Pesto
Root veggie pesto is a pretty good-looking category, all told.
Recipe: Cashew Tarragon Pesto
Tarragon has an delicate, tongue-tingly flavor. Combining it with (relatively neutral) parsley works well.
Recipe: Walnut-Arugula Pesto
This spicy, tender little green is practically designed to be in pesto.
Thyme leaves are pretty tiny, so you can bulk up the pesto with other greens too (using something mild like spinach helps the flavor come through).
14. Roasted Red Peppers
Recipe: Roasted Red Bell Pepper Pesto
Essentially one step away from romesco sauce, but it’s a very important step: CHEESE.
Recipe: Cilantro Pesto
Like your pesto spent a semester abroad in Mexico!