My F&W
quick save (...)
Expert Guide

5 Ways to Make Your Own Pesto

Handmade Pesto © Susan Spungen

The classic Ligurian pesto, with basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic and olive oil, is really just a blueprint for creating any kind of garlicky, oily sauce. Here are five ways to play with the formula to create your own version for tossing with pasta or spooning over anything from the grill.

1. Vary the green. Basil is classic, but other tender herb leaves, like parsley, cilantro and mint (or a combination of all of these) also work well. Or skip the herbs and try kale, arugula or broccoli rabe—a great sneaky way to eat your greens.

2. Switch up the nuts. Pine nuts are the go-to but they can be spendy. Instead, try almonds or walnuts, which make a heartier pesto. Or, for a less obvious choice, add pistachios or Brazil nuts, which both have a natural buttery flavor that’s delicious in the sauce.

3. Add vegetables. For an especially chunky pesto, add your farmers’ market finds, from asparagus to red peppers to tomatoes.

4. Mix and match. After you get comfortable with varying the formula, you can come up with creative combos, like oregano-pistachio or olive-hazelnut. Or move pesto away from its Italian roots and make a Mexican version with poblano peppers and queso fresco, or an Asian version with lemongrass, ginger and yuzu kosho.

5. Choose your mixing method. Sure, the fastest way to pulverize your pesto is in a food processor, but pounding it together in a mortar and pestle yields a pesto with an incomparable texture, and helps you work out your aggression, to boot.

Kristin Donnelly is a former Food & Wine editor and cofounder of Stewart & Claire, an all-natural line of lip balms made in Brooklyn.

Related: The Best Pesto Recipes
How to Make Neapolitan-Style Pizza
33 Fast Weekday Pastas

You Might Also Like powered by sheknows


Add A Comment

    Add a Comment

    See our terms
    You must be logged in to comment. or
    The Dish
    Receive delicious recipes and smart wine advice 4x per week in this e-newsletter.
    The Wine List Weekly pairing plus best bottles to buy.
    F&W Daily One sensational dish served fresh every day.
    American Express Publishing ("AEP") may use your email address to send you account updates and offers that may interest you. To learn more about the ways we may use your email address and about your privacy choices, read the AEP Privacy Statement.
    How we use your email address
    Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

    Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.