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16 Things You Can Turn Into Pesto

Move out the way, basil. Cheese + nuts + olive oil + garlic + whatever the hell you want = awesome pesto.

John Gara / BuzzFeed

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: Walnut Scape Pesto

If you’re not familiar, more info on scapes over here.

2. Parsley

 

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.

3. Corn

 

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.

4. Kale

 

Recipe: Arugula Caprese Salad with Kale Pesto

If there’s anything you can’t put kale in, we’re not aware of it.

5. Pea Shoots

 

Recipe: Pesto with Pea Shoots and Garlic Scapes

If you don’t have any scapes, you can swap in a couple cloves of regular garlic + more pea shoots.

6. Ramps

 

Recipe: Ramp Pesto

ramps #RAMPS #rampwatch

7. Beets

 

Recipe: Beet Pesto Pasta

Not as dangerous as it looks! This tastes good and—cool trick—will turn your pasta crazy bright pink.

8. Mint

 

Recipe: Mint-Pistachio Pesto

N.B. Mint is pretty powerful, so use this stuff judiciously.

9. Spinach

 

Recipe: Spinach Basil Pesto

A gentle option. You can choose to combine with some herbs (or not).

10. Carrots

 

Recipe: Roasted Red Pepper Carrot Pesto

Root veggie pesto is a pretty good-looking category, all told.

11. Tarragon

 

Recipe: Cashew Tarragon Pesto

Tarragon has an delicate, tongue-tingly flavor. Combining it with (relatively neutral) parsley works well.

12. Arugula

 

Recipe: Walnut-Arugula Pesto

This spicy, tender little green is practically designed to be in pesto.

13. Thyme

 

Recipe: Grilled Bread with Thyme Pesto and Preserved Lemon Cream

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.

15. Cilantro

 

Recipe: Cilantro Pesto

Like your pesto spent a semester abroad in Mexico!

16. Chard

 

Recipe: Linguine with Chard Pesto

There’s only so much sautéing you can do before you’re desperate for some other things to do with chard.

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