Ideas for Using Pesto

July 27, 2013

There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to keep the conversation going.

Ideas for Using Pesto, from Food52

This time of year, the herbs in your garden or window box are probably going crazy -- not necessarily a bad thing, but you don’t want that bumper crop to go to bad before you get to it either. Adianne whipped up a big batch of pesto with her basil, and now is wondering what to do with her plethora of pesto. Some of the best ideas we’ve seen?

  • Using pesto as a sandwich spread or combining it with ground turkey for extra flavorful meatloaf or meatballs, from HalfPint.
  • Petitbleu suggests tossing cooked grains with pesto, or smearing it on the bottom of a pie crust for a savory pie.
  • Spreading pesto on fish fillets, sprinkling them with parmesan, and then baking them in the oven, from Couldn’t Be Parve
  • Barb48 recommends using pesto in an omelet or spreading some under the skin of chicken before baking or roasting.
  • Stirring it into soup or using it as a bruschetta topping, from ChefJune.

What are your favorite ways to use pesto? Add your two cents to the question on the Hotline here or continue the conversation in the comments below! (You can also weigh in over here with your favorite ways to use basil beyond pesto.) 

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • evelyn
  • PassTheKnife
  • Loves Food Loves to Eat
    Loves Food Loves to Eat
  • Allison Mammen
    Allison Mammen
  • JM
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


evelyn August 11, 2013
I roast whole mushrooms in pesto. Not only do they have a savory base; the pesto itself becomes more intense.
PassTheKnife August 2, 2013
Chop Brussels sprouts in a food processor, brown in a pan with a bit of olive oil, then toss with loads of pesto. It's amazing.
Loves F. July 29, 2013
Pesto shrimp quesadillas!
Allison M. July 29, 2013
I make pesto often!!! There are a million uses for it everyday. Italian subs are outstanding with pesto smeared on it instead of mayo. Toss pesto with some pasta and chicken & roast veggies for a quick dinner. Smear chicken breasts with it and bake. One of my favorites is making pizza with pesto as the sauce, some fresh mozzarella, and shrimp... It's too die for. Then there is the regular eating pesto with a tad more olive oil and dipping bread in it. I add it to anything that I want extra flavor. So easy, yet so yummy!
JM July 29, 2013
I like pesto on crostini and in sandwiches:
marialissio July 28, 2013
Looks like whoever posted the photos had no idea she/he was doing. Pesto is not only made with basil as is evidenced by the comments below and the photos used. It would be good to have the text linked to the real deal in the photos.
Lindsay-Jean H. July 29, 2013
Your Burning Questions highlights the one of the most interesting questions from the past week on the Hotline. We certainly always want to have the perfect photo for every piece, but given the timeline for this particular column we adapt to use photos we have -- selecting those that best illustrate the discussion at hand. In this case, the thyme pesto in the photo is being used in a manner that was suggested for basil pesto. As many have pointed pointed out, pesto can be made with a variety of ingredients, and used in a variety of ways. Since these suggestions work for all types of pesto, we've updated the title to reflect that. Hopefully the photos don't continue to overshadow the clever ideas for using pesto that others are sharing.
Abell B. July 28, 2013
Drizzle pesto on sliced heirloom tomatoes & mozzarella for a variation on insalata caprese.
supersuki July 28, 2013
I love pesto on sandwiches. I do pesto on toasted bread and top off with bruschetta
and some parmesan. I also like to do pesto with sun dried tomatoes and brie.
CK July 28, 2013
Replace dressing in your favorite chicken salad recipe with pesto...Makes GREAT sandwiches....
deucemom July 28, 2013
I LOVE pesto on my burgers - with brie cheese or other great melting cheese. No mayo for me anymore! I also freeze in ice cube trays, the perfect amount for spreading on a burger in the middle of winter.
WifeyAndrea July 28, 2013
My favorite way to extend our summer basil pesto is to freeze in ice cube trays and then pop them out and store in a glass jar in the freezer. Just grab a cube or two to brighten any dish!
krusher July 27, 2013
Apologies. I also make Gena Henshaw's Simple Vegan Pesto which is very nice. I recognise the knife in the photo from her recipe listing. Both recipes are very, very good.
krusher July 27, 2013
I know this is being picky but isn't that a photo of Em-i-lis' winning Mint Pesto which has absolutely no basil in it? I love that recipe of hers and make it every week as the moment because there is no basil here because it is winter in the southern hemisphere.
Bevi July 28, 2013
You are correct - no basil in this recipe. I make it every other week with my abundant mint.
em-i-lis July 28, 2013
Y'all are correct. The first picture (on the home page) is my mint-pistachio pesto which does not, as noted by you both, contain any basil. But I'm so glad you like it. :)
Interestingly, the second pic (the one above) is 5 and Spice's Thyme Pesto; it, too, contains no basil (it is, however, delicious).
Just an FYI re: the pics in this article...
Lindsay-Jean H. July 29, 2013
You all are absolutely correct. See above for my response regarding the photos.
Brenda July 27, 2013
We love pesto on new potatoes! YUM!
CondimentQueen July 28, 2013
So do we! I look for some that are the size of a large marble, parboil them and then slide them onto presoaked bamboo skewers. Brush with basil pesto and then put them on the grill for a few minutes to finish cooking. Delish!
Amber A. July 27, 2013
Pesto freezes really well! At the food co-op I worked at, we froze enormous batches of it in 8-and 16-oz containers in the summer and thawed them out as needed throughout the year.