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
Credit: Lennart Weibull

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 meatballs
Credit: Lennart Weibull

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 with veggies
Credit: Lennart Weibull

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.

Pesto also pops on soft scrambled eggs or roasted vegetables, stirred into vinaigrette, or tossed in potato salad. To store it for up to six months, pour an extra batch into an ice tray and freeze it. Once solid, transfer cubes to a freezer-proof container. Thaw fully before using.


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