If you ask any Italian, especially one from Northern Italy, pesto should only consist of the following: garlic, Italian basil, olive oil, pine nuts and a combo of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Fiore Sardo cheeses. And while we love the traditional stuff, technically, you can make pesto out any combo of oil, nuts, garlic, cheese and vegetables. If you don’t believe us, check out one of the 13 recipes below:
1. Spinach Pesto Fusilli
Short on basil? You can easily substitute spinach for a sweet and milder take on the classic. In this recipe, we recommend serving the pesto along with Fusilli or any other pasta that has enough nooks and crannies to hold the sauce. Get our Spinach Pesto Fusilli Recipe.
2. Pasta with Arugula Pesto, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts
For a pesto with a little more bite, replace basil with arugula (also known as salad rocket) and serve along with chopped sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts. Get our Pasta with Arugula Pesto, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts recipe.
3. Arugula Walnut Pesto
Remember what we said about being able to make pesto out of anything? Well this recipe, with arugula, walnuts and Dijon mustard proves the point. It can be served as a sauce or used as a spread along with grilled meat. Get our Arugula Walnut Pesto recipe.
4. Basil Parsley Pesto
As the recipe explains, when basil and parsley become readily available in your summer markets, it’s time to make pesto. While not as thick as a traditional one, it’s still great as base for pasta sauce or drizzled over fresh cut tomatoes and mozzarella. Get our Basil Parsley Pesto recipe.
5. Poblano Pesto
A smoky, southwestern take on the Italian classic, our Poblano Pesto is a spicy winner. We recommend serving as a dip along with grilled vegetables and meat. Get our Poblano Pesto recipe.
6. Cilantro Almond Pesto
Cilantro gives a nice punch to this pesto, which can be used as a sandwich spread, a sauce for tacos or pizza, or spooned over scrambled eggs. Get our recipe for Cilantro Almond Pesto recipe.
7. Watercress Walnut Pesto
Packed with nutrients, watercress is a great alternative to basil in pesto. In this recipe, we also replace the pine nuts with walnuts for a pesto that is great spooned over pretty much anything - or straight from the spoon. Get our Watercress Walnut Pesto recipe.
8. Pasta with Artichoke Pesto
Artichokes and ricotta make up the backbone for this untraditional pesto, which is best served with any type of short, tubular pasta (think Rigatoni). While you can use store bought ricotta, the dish is elevated when you make your own. Get our Pasta with Artichoke Pesto recipe.
9. Roasted Fish with Thai Pesto
Proving that Pesto isn’t just found on Italian menus, our recipe for Thai pesto is the perfect accompaniment along with a whole roasted fish. The Thai pesto combines cilantro, mint, lemongrass, lime and ginger. Get our Roasted Fish with Thai Pesto recipe.
10. Soba Noodles with Swiss-Chard Miso Pesto
Have you ever been to the grocery store, saw a bag of Swiss chard in the vegetable aisle and thought, what can I do with that? Well you’re in luck - our recipe for soba noodles with Swiss-chard miso is the perfect starter to get you into the leafy vegetable. Get our Soba Noodles with Swiss-Chard Miso Pasta recipe.
11. Easy Chermoula Sauce
Chermoula, the North African cousin to pesto, is just as easy to make as its Italian counterpart. Like traditional pesto, chermoula is great along with grilled meat or steamed vegetables. Get our Easy Chermoula Sauce recipe.
12. Garlic Scape Pesto
A farmer’s market staple - if you are lucky enough to find them - garlic scapes make a great base for pesto. And since the garlic scapes are pulling double duty, all you need to complete this dish is some good olive oil, pine nuts and cheese. Get the recipe here.
13. The Best Pesto
While you can make pesto “out of anything”, we’d be remiss if we didn’t give you at least one recipe for the traditional stuff. The folks at Serious Eats have a good one. Get the recipe here.
Dan McKay is a Canadian actor, film director, screenwriter, and musician—oh wait, that's Ryan Gosling. Dan is a Philly-based freelance writer, photographer, and digital marketer. He has written for Eater and Thrillist, in addition to other publications. Outside of work, you might run across him in the Asian market or in one of Philly’s local drinking establishments.