Pesto Can Heal Your Wounds and Dress Your Salads

March 23, 2015

For those nights when you get home hungry, stressed, and impatient, Hangry is here to help. Each Monday, Kendra Vaculin will share quick, exciting meals to rescue anyone who might be anxiously eyeing a box of minute rice.

Today: Who says pesto can't be made with white beans, used as salad dressing, or considered an elixir of life?  

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Pesto is the herbaceous glue that holds my life together, and I don’t think that’s hyperbolic. If you break open my dumbest days and roughest nights, you’ll find green bits in the crevices where I tried to put things back together with basil. I squeeze lemons on my hangovers and drizzle olive oil into the running food processor that’s drowning out the sound of my bad mood. It’s the perfect cure-all life medication, because it’s endlessly customizable and ideal on anything in your fridge: Combine something green, plus a little garlic, plus a little cheese or nut or whatever you’ve got, then slather on toast or stir it into polenta. Pesto can knock your salad game out of the park or totally rework your Chinese vegetable delivery leftovers.

The satisfaction of pulverizing food stuffs gives way to the very best smell and the brightest, happiest shade of sauce you’ve ever seen. Bad mood: obliterated. Fog: lifted. Pesto: hero once again.

As a test of something vegan, I subbed out my usual pesto creamy-ifier of Parmesan for some white beans, and they were a really stellar substitute. You will need to add salt in a way you maybe haven’t had to with pesto before because of the lack of natural cheese saltiness, but otherwise I didn’t miss the cheese one bit. Of course, I promptly un-veganed this bad boy with a 6-minute egg. But that's just me.

3 P.M. Salad

Makes however much salad you want and enough dressing for 4 to 5 servings

For a single serving of salad:

 big handful baby kale

radishes, thinly sliced into rounds and then halved


For the dressing (makes about 1/2 cup):

cup packed torn basil leaves

cup olive oil

Juice of a small lemon

cup cooked white beans (I used navy)

large cloves garlic, roughly chopped

Salt and fresh ground pepper

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photo by James Ransom

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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A fan of female driven comedies, a good beat, your hair today, and making foods for friends.


Tory N. March 23, 2015
that's such a good idea. bravo.
Catherine L. March 23, 2015
I skinned my knee last week -- do you think a pesto poultice would help the healing process?
Lyrajayne March 23, 2015
Garlic is antimicrobial, right? Just toss some rosemary or something in there as well. ;)