25 Unique Pesto Recipe You Really Need to Make

25 unique Pesto Recipes You Really Need to Make BoulderLocavore.com

I recently shared a recipe for Sriracha Hummus.  Hummus is one of those foods that people normally buy at the store, but is very fast and inexpensive to make.  A few simple ingredients are thrown into a food processer or blender, and within five minutes you have hummus.

Another recipe that is very similar in ease of making is Pesto.  It too seems to bear an ‘a ha’ quality when people actually make it themselves and are left wondering why they hadn’t before.  Traditionally pesto is made of basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan cheese (though not always with the cheese).  Like hummus, everything is added to a food processer and whirled into a textured sauce that most often is tossed with pasta for a fresh, delicious, quick entrée.  It is easily frozen too if the cheese is omitted.  During the summer when my garden is bursting with basil I love making batches which I freeze in thin bags with my Food Saver and stack them neatly in the freezer for use all year.

Kale Walnut Meyer Lemon Pesto on Brown Rice Penne Pasta- BoulderLocavore.com
Kale Walnut Meyer Lemon Pesto on Brown Rice Pasta

As with many recipes, the boundaries of what defines pesto have stretched to really be any greens, with a nut, and olive oil (though not exclusively). It has become familiar to find such variations and also to change up how they are used.  For instance, I have switched up the base recipe to use some of a burgeoning tarragon crop, transforming it into a delicious Tarragon Pesto Chicken Breast with Dressed Greens.  It has a sophisticated, French-inspired flavor and is whipped up in less than 30 minutes.

Tarragon Pesto Chicken Breast with dressed greens - BoulderLocavore.com
Tarragon Pesto Chicken Breast with Dressed Greens.

Regular readers will know that I have a tortured mint over growth situation in my yard during the summer.  One brief hesitation about whether to plan a small mint plan in a pot or not, (I opted for ‘or not’) has led to a sci-fi infiltration of mint everywhere in my yard.  There are only so many Mojitos a girl can make so I made a Sweet Mint Pesto that is wonderful, made with almond oil, almonds and honey.

Homemade Sweet Mint Pesto - BoulderLocavore.com
Sweet Mint Pesto

Being all for easy, flavorful recipes I rounded up some delicious, unique pesto options for you to add into your recipe rotation.  With the right handful of ingredients, pesto is ready to make a meal with little lead time.  I’m sharing a collection of types of pesto and different types of recipes using them.  For this round-up I stuck to the definition of pesto recipes including a base green and a nut (though I’ve seen delicious options without any greens at all….I’m not sure technically that still is a pesto).  I hope you’ll find some you love!

Toasted Pistachio Arugula Pesto with Brown Rice Fusili Pasta - BoulderLocavore.com
Toasted Pistachio Arugula Pesto with Brown Rice Fusili Pasta

Note for those on a gluten-free diet: Most pesto is naturally gluten-free however some of the recipe using pesto (second group below) may require adaptation of the pasta or other ingredients to ensure they are gluten-free!

Unique 'Must Try' Pesto Recipe | BoulderLocavore.com


Classic Basil Pine Nut Pesto with instruction on how to freeze it in ice cube trays (The Lemon Bowl)

Sweet Mint Pesto

Spinach Walnut Pesto (Flavor the Moments)

Broccoli Basil Pesto (Dizzy, Busy and Hungry)

Cilantro Pumpkin Seed Pesto (Hola Jalapeno)

Spinach Pecan Pesto (Miss In The Kitchen)

Bacon Basil Pesto (Baked By Rachel)

Seaweed Pesto (Tasting Page)

Lemony Pistachio Basil Pesto (The Lemon Bowl)

Pistachio Arugula Sweet Pea Pesto (Peas and Crayons)

Vegan Spinach Mint Pesto (Tasting Page)

Pea, Arugula and Walnut Pesto (Floating Kitchen)

Roasted Pepper and Almond Pesto (Everyday Maven)

Turkey Pesto and Garlic Meatballs by Cafe Delites | Boulderlocavore.com
Turkey Pesto and Garlic Meatballs by Cafe Delites

RECIPES USING PESTO (pesto recipes included)

Toasted Pistachio Arugula Pesto with Brown Rice Fusili Pasta

Kale Walnut Meyer Lemon Pesto with Brown Rice Penne Pasta

Tarragon Pesto Chicken Breast with Dressed Greens

Roast Chicken with Shallots, Radishes and Radish Green Pesto (Heather Christo)

Pasta with Parsley Pistachio Pasta (A View From Great Island)

Thai Pesto Chicken Gluten-Free Noodle Bowls (Cotter Crunch)

Turkey Pesto and Garlic Meatballs (Café Delites)

Chive Pesto Potato Salad Recipe (Ciao Florentina)

Tomato Pesto Soup with Cheesy Croutons (Erren’s Kitchen)

Pesto Veggie Burger with Sun Dried Tomato Aioli (Namely Marly)

Pesto Crusted Rack of Lamb with Roasted Plums (Cook the Story)

Zoodles with Spinach-Kale and Basil Pesto (Simple Roots Wellness)

Thai Pesto Chicken Gluten-Free Noodle Bowls by CotterCrunch.com | BoulderLocavore.com
Thai Pesto Chicken Gluten-Free Noodle Bowls by Cotter Crunch


    • says

      Many of these pestos here actually are as easy to make as the traditional type but they do not use basil. A fun way to experiment with other greens and nuts other than pine nuts!

  1. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says

    Coming from a big Italian family, I grew up on pesto. I know it’s not for everyone, but you have a lot of great recipes here, so I am sure there is something for everyone.

  2. says

    I love pesto – it reminds me of the basil growing in my garden during the summer! I’ve never tried it before on figs, but I’m sure it tastes divine!

  3. says

    The sweet mint pesto looks and sounds so appetizing! It’s always nice to find a simple to make recipe that is tasty and will attract the family’s interest. On a side note, I made the slow cooker spicy chorizo green chile cannellini bean soup recipe you shared last week. It was delicious.

  4. Crystal says

    Pesto is my favorite pasta topping, but I’m realizing there’s so much more I need to do with it. These all look awesome.

  5. Marcie Bidou says

    I love experimenting with different ingredients for pesto sauce — anything goes! I love this round up, and thank you for including my pesto!

    • says

      I don’t know why there are certain foods that I never thought to make myself only to find out they were so easy! Pesto was one for me. I guess I thought only restaurants and businesses could make it! LOL!

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