Pesto Sauce Ideas

Fresh pesto is so easy to make. If you have never had it fresh from the garden you will not believe the flavor difference. Plus this is a great way to use up extra herbs. The classic basil pesto below is probably what you are most acquainted with. However, there are many variations you can apply to the basic pesto. Just a small dollop of sauce turns a ho-hum dish into a meal. Pesto goes especially well with fish and of course in pasta.

Pesto will turn dark within minutes if you do not add lemon juice. It keeps for some time in the frig and can easily be made a day or two ahead or frozen.

Servings: 4 to 8     Prep time: 10 min     Cooking time: none
Utensils: Food processor with cutting blade

Pesto Matrix Recipe
2 cups fresh basil leaves - tightly packed
2 cloves garlic - minced
2 tsp lemon juice
cup pine nuts
tsp sea salt
tsp fresh ground pepper
to cup olive oil - depending on how thick you want the sauce
cup Parmesan cheese (optional)


Place all of the ingredients except the EVOO and cheese in the food processor bowl. Turn on and add the EVOO in a stream until it is nicely blended, this may require scraping down the sides and pulsing again. Add grated cheese if you desire and pulse to incorporate into the sauce.

Alternative Recipe Ideas

The matrix below shows the variety of ingredients you can use in a pesto sauce. Use the recipe for measurement guidelines. Pick an item from each column. Go wild mix and match!

Select an ingredient from each of the first three columns and add all of the ingredients from the "Other" column. Make it just as you would in the Basil Pesto Recipe listed above. TIP: toasted nuts will UP the wow factor. Spread on baking sheet, roast 7-9 minutes at 350 degrees. Stir occasionally. Walnuts are a good source of omega-3. You can vary the nut and cheese amount considerably depending on what you are using the sauce for and how strong you like it. Example: Black walnuts are much stronger than the other nuts, you may want to cut back to a few tsp. If you are using the sauce as a dollop on top of say fish you want it to be firm. For a pasta sauce use more EVOO and make it much thinner.

2 cup Herbs cup Nuts cup Cheese Other Ingredients
basil pine nuts Parmesan cup EV Olive oil
cilantro walnuts Asiago 2 cloves garlic
arugula pecans Manchego tsp sea salt
mint almonds Romano tsp fresh ground pepper
spinach Brazil nuts Grana Padano 2 tsp lemon juice
broccoli rabe pistachios

Return to Recipe Index
Alpha-gal Recipe Index

This recipe brought to you by Chef Gary from Rocky Creek Valley Farm