Insights

6 Simple Alternative Pestos You Can Recreate at Home

The word “pesto” comes from the Italian verb pestare, meaning to pound or crush. Traditionally made with crushed basil, pine nuts, and pecorino cheese, this vibrant green sauce is one we can’t get enough of—but we do love to experiment with other ingredients from time to time. In our exploration of alternative pestos, we swapped in a bevy of different nuts, greens, and seasonings (with delicious results): 

Beet Green & Pistachio Pesto

INGREDIENTS
2½ cups packed, torn beet greens (with stems removed)
¾ cup packed fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup pistachios
2 cloves garlic, chopped (or more as desired)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Pulse beet greens and basil in a food processor until finely chopped.

2. With the motor running, drizzle in olive oil, then add pistachios and garlic and process until mostly smooth but still a bit chunky.

3. Pulse in parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper and serve.

Lemony Mint Pesto

INGREDIENTS
1½ cups mint leaves
¾ cup packed fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon (or more, to taste)
½ cup grated Pecorino cheese
⅓ cup walnuts
2-3 cloves garlic (depending on taste)

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Pulse mint and basil in a food processor until finely chopped.

2. With the motor running, drizzle in olive oil, then add lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, and walnuts and process until mostly smooth but still a bit chunky.

3. Pulse in cheese, salt, and pepper and serve.

Kale & Walnut Pesto

INGREDIENTS
2½ cups packed, torn kale leaves, stems removed
¾ cup packed fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt
½
 teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup toasted walnuts
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Pulse kale and basil in a food processor until finely chopped.

2. With the motor running, drizzle in olive oil, then add walnuts and garlic and process until mostly smooth but still a bit chunky.

3. Pulse in parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper and serve.

Sun-Dried Tomato & Almond Pesto

INGREDIENTS
½ cup drained, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
⅓ cup salted roasted almonds
1 large garlic clove
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor, then process until smooth and serve.

Nut-Free Basil & Spinach Pesto

INGREDIENTS
4 cups spinach leaves
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Pulse spinach, basil, garlic, lemon juice, cheese, salt, and pepper in a food processor.

2. Blend for 30 seconds then slowly stream in the olive oil while the machine is running.

3. Process until smooth. 

Broccoli Rabe Pesto

INGREDIENTS
1 bunch broccoli rabe, tough stems removed
½ cup toasted pistachios
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon black pepper
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped (or more as desired)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook broccoli rabe for 1-2 minutes, then immediately place in an ice bath.

2. Drain, squeezing out any excess water, then add to a food processor and purée until a smooth paste forms.

3. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Serve.

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