Start With Pesto

Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad. Linda Larsen

I plant basil in my garden every year. Well, actually, it's not a garden, but a lot of large pots sitting on my backyard patio. Pesto is easy to grow, delicious in almost any recipe, and the basis for the most common form of pesto. So I can use it in these wonderful recipes that all start with pesto.

Pesto is a sauce made by blending herbs with cheese and nuts. It's an ancient sauce, probably originating in Roman times.

It's easy to make and so versatile. You can substitute spinach, mint, or arugula leaves for the basil. Try using Romano or Cotija cheese in place of the traditional Parmesan. And use cashews, walnuts, or almonds for the nuts. The one constant ingredient is olive oil: very good quality olive oil! Spicy and green extra virgin olive oil is necessary for the best pesto.

And then there are thousands of ways to use it. Spread it on bread when making chicken sandwiches. Toss it with roasted vegetables for a great side dish. Combine it with any hot cooked pasta for an elegant and super quick main dish. Mint pesto can even be used in desserts!

Start with Pesto Recipes

  • Pesto Meatballs with Orzo
    In this creamy and rich casserole, pesto combines with meatballs and orzo for a delicious main dish.
  • Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad
    This is the salad I make most often during the hot summer months. It's sublime.
  • Pesto Brie Bruschetta
    Crunchy french bread is topped with pesto, brie cheese and chopped tomatoes in this delicious recipe.
  • Pesto Stuffed Hamburgers
    Really, one of the best ways to make hamburgers cooked on the grill better is to add pesto.
  • Creamy Pesto Meatballs
    Onion, garlic, and green bell pepper add color and texture to this rich and delicious skillet meal. Serve it over hot cooked brown rice.
  • Pesto Pasta
    With just four ingredients, this fabulous summer recipe can be in the table in the time it takes to cook the pasta.
  • Pesto Mashed Potatoes
    Here's a super simple way to make mashed potatoes even better; stir in a little prepared pesto!
  • Pesto Torte
    This fabulous appetizer recipe is so good you could almost serve it as a meal! (Almost...) I sometimes omit the sun-dried tomatoes for a simpler dish.
  • Pesto Peppers with Penne
    Another three ingredient recipe! This is one main dish concoction that belongs in your 'quick and easy' repertoire.
  • Pesto Salmon Fettuccine
    This elegant recipe is one I love to serve to guests. It's so easy to make, and very impressive.
  • Chicken Pesto Spinach Salad
    Lemon juice and frozen chopped spinach added to pesto help keep the color bright green and add nutrition and flavor while cutting calories.
  • Pesto Meatballs with Fettuccine
    Can you tell that I love pesto? This hearty dish is a variation on Pesto Peppers with Penne.
  • Pesto Chicken Packets
    Get out the grill, use five ingredients, and a full meal is on the table in less than 30 minutes!
  • Tomato Pesto Spaghetti
    Just three ingredients make this excellent recipe; use it only when you have garden-fresh tomatoes.
  • Pumpkin Soup with Cilantro Pesto
    Although this isn't a 'quick and easy' recipe, the cilantro pesto instructions help you understand how to create new flavors of pesto.