There’s nothing like a fresh batch of pesto to imbue pasta, meats and steamed vegetables with bright, herbaceous flavor. Most people are familiar with the classic pesto, a pureed mix of basil, pine nuts, crushed garlic and cheese (usually Parmesan) moistened with a splash of olive oil. But these ingredients, though delicious, can be pricey and difficult to find. The good news is, there are other ways to prepare this zesty sauce from scratch, in less time and with less money spent at the store. If it’s green and a vegetable, chances are you can turn it into pesto. So if your potted basil didn’t fare as well as you’d hoped this summer, never fear: Broccoli, arugula and other greens make great substitutes. Here are five easy takes on the classic pesto to invigorate your favorite summer dishes.
No imported nuts or costly cheeses here. For this Pesto Pork with Polenta (pictured at top), the experts at Food Network Kitchen have created a traditional pesto with a few modifications, relying on pantry-ready ingredients to help get dinner on the table faster. Basil, parsley, scallions and garlic make up the fragrant base, while Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice add a flavorful zing. This batch comes together in just a few minutes with the help of your food processor and pairs perfectly with sauteed spinach, savory polenta and juicy cuts of seared pork.
The star of many a salad gets a saucy makeover in this summery Chicken with Arugula Pesto dish. Combine fresh peppery arugula with parsley, lemon juice, Parmesan and olive oil in your food processor — and don’t forget the nuts. For this recipe, toasted almonds or hazelnuts work best.
Next to basil, parsley is the second most-common herb base for pesto. In fact, sometimes you’ll find the two herbs blended together in a pesto recipe. But for these Green Beans with Walnut-Parsley Sauce, parsley takes the main stage. The herb’s bright, refreshing flavor gives blanched green beans the perk-up they need to warrant a spot at your next dinner party.
Using broccoli in place of leafy greens or herbs is a great way to experiment with new textures, as you’ll find with this Broccoli-Walnut Pesto with Pasta. Not only is this pesto good for you, it’s also cost-conscious. Pine nuts can set you back $20 or more when purchased by the pound. Generally speaking, walnuts will cost you less than half that amount.
If you’re tired of hearing about kale, well, you’re not alone. But before you forsake the superfood for a new health trend, give this Kale and Pistachio Pesto Spaghetti one look. Healthy and cost-conscious, this pesto spaghetti is also timely, taking just 35 minutes to prepare. Make a double batch and you’ll have enough to serve a crowd at your next summer party. Spaghetti is an obvious— albeit tasty — choice, but the pesto is also good on fish, chicken, pork and steak.
For more pesto ideas, check out these recipes from friends and family.
The Lemon Bowl: Lemony Pistachio Basil Pesto
Dishin & Dishes: Kale Pesto and Mushroom Stuffed Porterhouse Chops
Creative Culinary: Pesto Potato Salad with Parmesan Walnuts
Weelicious: Kale Pesto
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Garden Salad With Basil-Pesto Vinaigrette
Red or Green: Corn On The Cob With Basil-Jalapeno Vinaigrette
Homemade Delish: Spinach and Kale Pesto
Domesticate Me: Ratatouille Quinoa Bake with Pesto and Buffalo Mozzarella
The Mom 100: Crusted Loin Lamb Chops with Mint Basil Pesto
Taste with the Eyes: Fresh, Fabulous, and Frugal – Carrot Top Pesto
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Chicken Breasts with Coconut and Cilantro Pesto
FN Dish: 6 Non-Pasta Ways to Go Big with Pesto