Pesto is one of those things I always have on hand. We use it in everything. Every summer I make a HUGE batch of pesto from the basil my hubby grows me in the garden. I freeze it in 1 cup portions that way I can have fresh pesto any time I want, no matter the season.
My kids happen to love pesto…which makes it a super sneaky disguise to hide other things in (mean, I know). For example, I have made this pesto recipe substituting up to half the basil for blanched broccoli. Did anyone notice? Nope. They just happily ate their pizza and I watched, thrilled with my little nutrition swap. Most recently, I subbed kale for the half the basil and the result was just the same. No one noticed, and I scored BIG time.
I know the season is a little off for a fresh pesto recipe, but you can also buy a good quality, store bought pesto and blend it with kale, broccoli, or spinach. Or here’s another sneaky idea. Blend some prepared pesto with a can of drained, rinsed cannelloni beans. I tried this last weekend and used it as a base for an unbelievably delicious pesto veggie pizza.
Obviously, pesto with pasta is one of our all time favorite dishes. We toss hot pasta in the pesto and then sprinkle on a generous amount of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. A little extra cracked black pepper is also fantastic.
Here are a few of my other favorite ways to use pesto. Enjoy!
- Grilled Cheese and Pesto (my kids absolute favorite! Simply spread pesto on both sides of bread, layer on the cheese and enjoy. You’ll never have plain old grilled cheese again)!
- Pesto pizza or calzones
- Pesto mayo (equal parts mayo and pesto…try it on our Turkey BLT Sandwich)
- Tomato and Pesto salad (thin pesto with a little olive oil and drizzle over sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella
- ½ cup walnuts
- 8 cloves fresh garlic
- 5 cups fresh basil, packed (or 2½ cups basil and 2½ cups substitution, like kale or blanched broccoli)
- 1¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1½ cup olive oil
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Process walnuts and garlic in food processor until well combined
- add basil, salt and pepper and pulse until basil is finely chopped
- With the blade running, add olive oil slowly until the pesto is smooth
- add Parmesan cheese and blend 30 more seconds.
- Use in your favorite recipe right away or freeze for later use. Enjoy!