11 Ways to Get Creative with Pesto

April 29, 2015

Just in time for the changing season, full of winter's hardy greens as well as the first herbs and soft lettuces of spring, we're bringing back this green-flecked roundup and updating it with a few of our newest favorite recipes.

Pesto should be your best friend for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It works at any time of day and on anything you want. What's more, pesto needn't be confined to the basil of your youth: We're here to tell you to forget what you know.

That's right: Pesto can be made out of practically any vegetable or herb that's green and flavorful. Arugula? Yes. Mint? Yes. Garlic scapes? Yes, please! And if your mind isn't spinning already, just think: You can add whatever nuts, oils, and cheeses you'd like (or leave out the cheese for a vegan alternative). So use up your crisper full of languishing greens and give them a new lease on life—it's time to get creative. Once you've found your favorite combination, toss it with pasta, spread it on sandwiches, use it as a dip for vegetables, or eat it by the spoonful.

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Two-Pea Pesto Chicken Salad by Kendra Vaculin


Grilled Bread with Thyme Pesto and Preserved Lemon Cream by fiveandspice


Hearts of Romaine Salad with Bacon, 5-Minute Eggs, and Pesto Dressing by Phyllis Grant

Mint-Pistachio Pesto
 by em-i-lis


Grilled Brie Sandwiches with Honey, Pistachio, and Kale Pesto by Taylor

Mango Salad with Fennel Frond Pesto
 by arielleclementine

Asparagus with Spring Garlic Pesto by erinmcdowell

Winter Greens Gremolata and Pesto by Phyllis Grant

Grilled Aged Cheddar Cheese Sandwich with Pistachio Sage Pesto
 by Emily Weinberger

Simple Vegan Pesto
 by Gena Hemshaw

Kale Pesto Orecchiette by Brussels Sprouts for Breakfast


First and seventh photos by Mark Weinberg, third and eighth by Phyllis Grant, fifth by Bobbi Lin, and all others by James Ransom.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Sip and Spice
    Sip and Spice
  • Bec
  • Brussels Sprouts for Breakfast
    Brussels Sprouts for Breakfast
  • ChefJune
  • jenniebites
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Sip A. April 30, 2015
Until very recently, I was a pesto purist. Basil, olive oil, parm, toasted nuts. That's it. No messing around. Then I discovered arugula-pumpkin seed pesto, and I converted. Love all these! Pistachio Sage sounds just decadent!
Bec April 30, 2015
Now I have mint pesto on my mind! And that sandwich looks awesome...too bad I'm gluten free :'( !
Brussels S. April 29, 2015
Yum! I love that Grilled Cheese recipe! Also, thanks for sharing the Kale Pesto recipe!
ChefJune April 29, 2015
You forgot this recipe: - or haven't you tried it yet?
In France they leave the nuts out (and sometimes also the cheese) and call it "Pistou."
jenniebites June 23, 2013
that grilled cheese with arugula pesto is my hands-down favorite sandwich!
katekwfb June 19, 2013
cilantro and pumpkin seed pesto........yummy
ryanm June 19, 2013
In Lynne Rossetto Kasper's _Italian Country Table_ there's a stunning recipe for a mint, pistachio, and toasted almond pesto. It's become such a standard part of my repertoire--and anyone who's had it--that I forget it's not common knowledge. Like almost everything in that book, it's a real keeper.
Andy B. June 19, 2013
I've been making garlic scape & hazelnut pesto this spring! very tasty on grilled mozzarella cheese sandwiches!
Andrew O. June 18, 2013
Ramp top / pistachio pesto ~ es muy deliceux!
em-i-lis June 18, 2013
All beautiful!! Yum! And thank you for including mine!
Fiveandspice's grilled bread with thyme pesto is amazing!
Gret June 18, 2013
I think I'll stay with my home grown and local basil or parsley pesto. It's the flavor - nothing against arugula.
JM June 18, 2013
I'm a huge fan of arugula pesto and use it on crostini, in sandwiches and on pasta:
Julie A. June 18, 2013
I made a fantastic mint & almond pesto last summer. We have loads of mint growing in our yard & I'm always looking for ways to use it.
spierson June 18, 2013
My new favorite is kale and walnut pesto (blanched kale, walnuts, olive oil, lemon juice and parmesan). It's so delicious and versitile, I've made three large batches over the past few weeks.
amyc June 18, 2013
I'm really fond of arugula pesto served over ricotta on toast.