Fifteen New Uses For Basil Pesto

basilGot fresh basil? Take that bounty of extra herbs (whether from the farmers’ market, or your backyard garden) and make up a batch or two of fresh pesto.

Pesto keeps well for several weeks if covered and stored in the refrigerator — and it’ll keep all winter long if you store it in small containers (with a thin coating of olive oil on top) in the freezer.

It’s a simple and delicious main dish to toss 1/2 Cup of pesto with 1 lb of freshly-prepared pasta.  But to switch things up a little bit, here are twenty other delicious ideas for using up your homemade pesto:


  • Pesto at breakfast: Add a little pesto to a breakfast fritatta, omelette, or egg sandwich. Also a winner tossed with chunky breakfast potatoes.
  • Compound butter. 1:1 combo of pesto and room-temperature salted butter.
  • Corn on the cob: use in place of butter on freshly steamed or grilled sweet corn
  • Dress it up: Put a little pesto into your Italian-inspired salad dressing recipe, adding 1 tsp at a time and adjusting to taste.
  • Pizza: Dot the surface of rolled-out pizza dough with 1/4 teaspoon-sized “dollops” of pesto before topping with sliced vegetables, sliced or shredded mozzarella, and/or meaty pizza toppings.  Alternatively, use pesto in place of basil leaves for a modified Margherita pizza.
  • Bruschetta: Spread a little pesto on your oiled and toasted bruschetta bread, and garnish with minced tomato, onion and olives.
  • Panino: Pesto is a flavorful condiment on Italian-inspired sandwiches and pairs nicely with pork-based sandwich meats like ham, salami, bacon, or capicola. Also a winning combo with turkey on your next club sandwich.
  • Green beans: Toss freshly-steamed green beans with 1-1/2 tsp coarse sea salt and 2 Tbsp pesto, just before serving.
  • Pesto mashed potatoes: As easy as it sounds: as you add butter and cream (or your other favorite ingredient) to your cooked and drained potatoes, add a few spoonfuls of pesto to the mixing/mashing bowl. The pesto will add a surprising green tint to the flaky potatoes, and a luxurious aroma and flavor.
via fatfreevegan
via fatfreevegan
  • Pasta salad: We’ve already talked about using straight pesto as simple “sauce” on a warm pasta entree. But it’s also a yummy “dressing” for a pasta salad served cool. Add 1/4 Cup of basil pesto (more to your taste) and 2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar to your cooked, drained and cooled salad pasta (rotini, farfalle, macaroni, or other favorite noodle shape).  Raw or lightly steamed bite-size vegetables and a couple generous Tbsp of shredded Romano or Asiago cheese complete this single-dish meal.Take your favorite picnic or potluck salad recipe, and add a few Tbsp of pesto to add new life to family favorites like:
  • Potato Salad (our regular recipe here)
  • Egg Salad (our favorite pre-pesto version here)
  • Tuna Salad
  • Chicken Salad (substitute pesto for the curry in this recipe)
  • Hummus: Substitute a spoonful or two of basil pesto for the olive oil in your usual hummus recipe. The basil is a marvelous counterpoint to the sesame tahini and garbanzo bean base.