How to Make Simple Pesto—Plus, Recipes That Take It Beyond Pasta
While we love tossing fragrant pesto with noodles, you'll want to try these unexpected uses for the bright basil sauce.
Pesto is the epitome of a classic Italian recipe-it's a super simple sauce that highlights just a handful of very fresh, rich ingredients. While modern recipes call for throwing the half dozen ingredients in a food processor and whirring until a smooth purée forms, traditional recipes intend for each ingredient to be finely mashed in a mortar and pestle until it becomes a paste. A basic pesto requires fresh basil leaves, garlic cloves, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, toasted pine nuts, extra-virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. However, you can stray away from the basics by swapping out basil for other fresh greens like kale or cilantro, or replace the pine nuts with a other nuts.
How to Make Simple Pesto
Our test kitchen team has made dozens of versions of pesto, but this one may be the new gold standard. A blend of both Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano create an extra cheesy sauce with a salty bite, plus more extra-virgin olive oil creates a luscious ribbon of bright green goodness.
Pull-Apart Cheesy Pesto Bread
Just a quick look at the ingredients list for this bread will indicate that it is the ultimate flavorful garlic bread-Italian demi-loaves? Check. Fresh pesto? Yes, please. Fresh mozzarella and sliced Taleggio? Say no more.
Turkey-Pesto Meatball Soup
Ground dark turkey meat gets mixed with fresh aromatic pesto, breadcrumbs, and Parmigiano-Reggiano for nutty, slightly spicy meatballs. Fresh basil is heated in chicken broth for more fresh, peppery notes; don't cook the basil for too long, otherwise the bright flavor will quickly turn bitter.
Spring Pesto Dip
Spread it on bread, serve it with crudité and pita, or mix it in with twice-baked potato bites. The garlicky pesto will add a fresh punch when mixed with creamy, light mayonnaise and tangy sour cream.