My summer solution to dinner comes in a one-word package: pesto. Right now, basil is fragrant, billions of vegetables are ripe and ready to be paired with pesto, and there’s little reason not to whiz together the green paste in your mini food processor while your pasta boils and your zucchini sautés.
But pesto can transcend its Ligurian herby roots. Forget basil for a minute, and blend together arugula or spinach (even quicker to make dinner if you’ve purchased pre-washed), radish greens, or even kale for a nutritious substance that delivers you plenty of vegetables even when you’re too tired to make a salad. Forget pasta, and turn pesto into a spread for tartines and sandwiches or a sauce for egg bakes. There’s a wide and delicious world of pesto out there. Here’s how to navigate it.
1. First, master pesto.
There’s not much to it. Bookmark the basic recipe for pesto right this second, mainly for the proportions. You’ll need nuts, vegetables, salt, garlic, olive oil, lemon, and usually a hard cheese like parm.
2. Eat with pasta and veggies.
I can never get enough of Whole Wheat Pesto Pasta with Broccoli Rabe. Leftovers make lunch the best thing ever.
3. Mix with yogurt.
A little bit of pesto plus a little bit of yogurt transforms into a sauce that’s great on fish, chicken, or Crispy Potatoes & Baked Eggs with Pesto Yogurt.
4. Add to quinoa salad.
In addition to pesto, roasted tomatoes, avocado, and mozzarella are responsible for this quinoa salad being irresistible.
5. Craft the best sandwiches.
What do Pesto Chicken Sandwiches with Arugula & Sundried Tomatoes, Roasted Eggplant Sandwiches with White Bean Spread and Chive Pesto, and Grilled Salmon Sandwiches with Heirloom Tomatoes & Chive-Cashew Pesto have in common? That’s right: pesto.
6. Use the whole plant.
Beets, radishes, and even carrots are all candidates for “whole plant eating,” by which I mean that you should slice radishes, pesto radish leaves, and pile both onto a Radish & Radish Leaf Pesto Sandwich.
7. Spread on tartines.
Open-faced sandwiches especially seem to get better when they have multiple spreads, including pesto. Try these White Bean & Pesto Tartines, which I’d serve to anyone, anywhere.
8. Replace the tomato sauce in lasagna.
Earthy kale pesto for the surprising win in this dense Kale Pesto Lasagna.
9. Green up mac ‘n cheese
Pesto, prosciutto, and peas give gooey pasta a bright kick.
10. Go red.
Sundried tomatoes create a pungent, flavorful condiment that might not deliver the green vegetable punch of its leafy counterparts but should be seriously savored in Avocado & Red Pesto Tartines and on Italian-Style Tuna Melts nonetheless.