Definition of pesto: The word pesto originates from the Genoa region in Italy and and is loosely associated with the Italian word pesta, which means to pound or to crush, in reference to the sauce's crushed herbs and garlic. It's Latin equivalent translates to the English word pestle which refers to the mortar and pestle that are traditionally used to make the pesto.
How to make pesto:
Blend 8 cups of packed basil leaves, 1 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts, 2 to 4 garlic cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a food processor until almost smooth. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
*Note: Please note that traditional pesto is made with basil leaves but can also be made with parsley, cilantro, chives, etc... and almonds, walnuts or even pecans can be substituted for the pine nuts.
50 things to make with pesto:
1. Pesto Meatballs: Mix 1 pound ground turkey with 1/2 cup each of breadcrumbs and pesto, and 1/4 cup each of milk and grated Parmesan cheese. Form into small balls. Cook in a non-stick skillet with olive oil, 10 to 12 minutes.
2. Meatballs in Pesto Cream: Make Pesto Meatballs (No.1); cook until just browned then add 1 cup of chicken broth, and 1/4 cup of pesto and simmer until tender. Stir in 1/2 cup of cream and simmer.
3. Pesto Burgers: Make Pesto Meatballs (No.1) but form into patties and grill. Serve on toasted ciabatta rolls with pesto, mozzarella , tomato and arugula.
4. Pesto Pizza: Split a loaf of French bread and brush with pesto. Top with capicola, shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan. Broil unto the cheese melts.
5. Italian BLT: Spread pesto mixed with mayonnaise on toasted bread; fill with crisp pancetta, sliced tomato and arugula.
6. Pesto Fritters: Mix 1 cup each of ricotta cheese and chopped spinach, 1/2 cup of flour, 1/4 cup each of grated Parmesan cheese and pesto, and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder; chill for 30 minutes. Deep-fry tablespoonfuls in 350 degree vegetable oil until golden, 4 minutes. Serve with marinara sauce.
7. Pesto Butter: Mash 3/4 cup of pesto into 4 Tablespoons of softened butter.
8. Pesto Corn: Grill or steam corn then brush with Pesto Butter (No.7). Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
9. Pesto Sweet Potatoes: Bake sweet potatoes at 425 degrees until tender, about 40 minutes. Quarter lengthwise and spread with Pesto Butter (No.7).
10. Pesto Cream Tortellini: Simmer 1 cup of heavy cream with 1/4 cup of pesto in a skillet until slightly thickened. Stir in 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Toss with 12 ounces of cooked tortellini and 2 cups of steamed broccoli.
11. Ricotta-Broccoli Pasta: Toss 1 pound of cooked orecchiette with 1/2 cup each pesto, ricotta cheese and grated Parmesan cheese. Add 1 bunch of chopped steamed baby broccoli.
12. Baked Pesto Gnocchi: Toss 1 pound of cooked gnocchi with 3 Tablespoons of pesto and 1 Tablespoon of softened butter in a baking dish. Sprinkle with grated pecorino and broil until golden.
13. Tuna-White Bean Pasta: Cook 1 sliced garlic clove in a skillet with 3 Tablespoons of olive oil, for 1 minute. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 1 can each drained tuna and white beans, and 1/4 cup pesto. Toss with 12 ounces of cooked spaghetti and some torn basil.
14. Pesto Primavera Salad: Toss 12 ounces of cooked gemelli or penne with 4 cups of sliced steamed vegetables, 1 cup of diced mozzarella cheese, 3/4 cup of pesto and 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Top with toasted sliced almonds.
15. Potato-Pesto Pasta: Cook 1/2 pound of cavatelli and 1/2 pound of chopped peeled russet potatoes in boiling water until tender, 8 to 9 minutes. Drain and toss with 1/4 cup of pesto and some of the cooking liquid.
16. Calamari-Pesto Pasta: Make Potato-Pesto Pasta (No.15). Saute 1 pound of calamari in a skillet with olive oil for 3 to 4 minutes. Toss with the pasta.
17. Pesto Mussels: Saute 4 sliced garlic cloves in a pot with olive oil until golden, about 2 minutes. Add 2 pounds of mussels and 1 cup of white wine; cover and cook until the mussels open, about 4 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons of pesto.
18. Pesto-Clam Linguine: Make Pesto Mussels (No.17), using clams instead of mussels. Add 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Toss with linguine.
19. Pesto Green Beans: Toss 1 pound of steamed green beans with 3 Tablespoons of pesto and the juice of 1/2 lemon.
20. Pancetta-Pesto Peas: Cook 4 ounces of diced pancetta in a skillet with olive oil until crisp; remove with a slotted spoon. Add 1 bag of frozen peas and 1 cup of water to the skillet; simmer until tender, 10 minutes. Stir in 3 Tablespoons of pesto and heat through.
21. Pesto Orzo with Peas: Make Pancetta-Pesto Peas (No.20). Stir in 1 1/2 cups of cooked orzo and 2 Tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese.
22. Pesto Potato Salad: Cook 2 pounds of quartered new potatoes in salted boiling water until tender, 10 to 15 minutes; drain and cool slightly. Whisk 1 cup of mayonnaise, 3 Tablespoons of pesto, and the juice of 1 lemon; toss with the potatoes and 1 cup of diced celery.
23. Pesto Chicken Salad: Whisk 3 Tablespoons of pesto with 1/4 cup each of mayonnaise and sour cream. Stir in 4 cups of chopped cooked chicken, 1/2 cup of chopped celery and 1/4 cup each chopped red onion, walnuts and crisp bacon.
24. Pesto Egg Salad: Whisk 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, 2 Tablespoons each of pesto and olive oil, and 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice. Fold in 8 chopped hard-boiled eggs, 1 cup of chopped celery, and 2 Tablespoons of minced red onion.
25. Pesto Tuna Salad: Toss 2 cans of drained tuna, 1 can of drained chickpeas, 1/4 cup each chopped parsley, red onion and roasted red peppers, 3 Tablespoons of pesto and 2 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar.
26. Pesto Succotash: Cook 5 cups of corn, 1 cup of sliced cherry tomatoes, and 1/4 cup of chopped red onion in a skillet with 1 Tablespoon of butter until soft, about 5 minutes. Add cups of cooked lima beans and 1/4 cup of heavy cream; heat through, then stir in 2 Tablespoons of pesto.
27. Lemon-Pesto Dip: Whisk 1/2 cup of sour cream with 1/4 cup each mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese and pesto, 2 Tablespoons of capers and 2 teaspoons each of lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper.
28. Pesto Hummus: Mix 1 cup of hummus with 2 Tablespoons of pesto. Top with chopped mint, toasted pine nuts and a dash of paprika.
29. Pesto Croutons: Toss 4 cups of bread cubes, 3 Tablespoons pesto and 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet; bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
30. Pesto Panzanella: Toss Pesto Croutons (No.29) with 2 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 3 Tablespoons of olive oil , some chopped tomatoes and cucumber, sliced red onion and more pesto.
31. Pesto Salad: Whisk 2 Tablespoons of champagne vinegar and 1/4 cup of pesto. Toss with baby greens and serve with baguette toasts spread with goat cheese.
32. Pesto Caesar Salad: Whisk 2 Tablespoons of pesto with 1/2 cup of Caesar dressing. Toss with romaine lettuce and croutons; top with shaved Parmesan cheese.
33. Pesto Quesadilla: Saute 1/2 cup each sliced scallions, mushrooms and zucchini with some pesto, minced jalapenos and cilantro. Brown a flour tortilla in a skillet with butter; top with the vegetables, shredded Muenster cheese and another tortilla. Flip and cook.
34. Pesto Grilled Cheese: Brush 2 slices of rustic bread with pesto, then sandwich with sliced cheddar or provolone. Butter the outside of the bread and cook in a skillet over medium heat until golden.
35. Pesto-Tomato Soup: Cook 3/4 cup of chopped shallots and some fresh thyme in a pot with butter. Add 1 large can of crushed tomatoes, 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of cream; simmer for 20 minutes. Puree, then stir in 3 Tablespoons of pesto.
36 . Pesto Steak: Mix 1/4 cup pesto, 2 Tablespoon white wine vinegar and 1 Tablespoon of hot water. Grill or broil 1 1/4 pounds skirt steak; brush with the pesto.
37. Pesto Fritatta: Cook 1 grated zucchini in an ovenproof skillet with butter. Stir in 1/4 cup of chopped parsley and 2 Tablespoons each of pesto and grated Parmesan cheese. Add 6 beaten eggs and cook until almost set, 3 minutes. Bake in a 350 degree oven until set, about 15 minutes.
38. Pesto Fried Chicken: Mix 1 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of pesto; add 3 1/2 pounds of chicken pieces and soak for 30 minutes. Dredge the chicken in 3 cups of flour mixed with 1 teaspoon each of paprika, salt and pepper. Fry in 350 degree vegetable oil for about 12 to 15 minutes.
39. Pesto Wings: Marinate 2 pounds of chicken wings in 1/2 cup of pesto and 1/4 cup each cider vinegar, hot sauce and honey. Roast at 425 degrees, 40 minutes. Toss with chopped basil and mint.
40. Pesto Lamb Kebabs: Skewer 1 pound of cubed lamb and some red onion. Brush with a mix of 1/4 cup of pesto and 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar. Marinate for 1 hour, then grill.
41. Pesto Salmon Cakes: Mix 1 pound of cooked flaked salmon with 1 cup of panko flakes, 1/4 cup of pesto, 1 egg and 1 Tablespoon lemon zest. Form patties; cook in an oiled skillet, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve with tartar sauce mixed with pesto.
42. Pesto Swordfish: Mix 1/4 cup pesto with the juice of 1 lemon and 1 Tablespoon of hot water. Spoon over grilled or broiled swordfish.
43. Pesto Shrimp: Marinate 1 pound of shrimp in 2 Tablespoons each of pesto and olive oil; add 1 lemon (cut into wedges) and 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Grill about 3 minutes per side. Season with salt.
44. Pesto Roast Chicken: Mix the juice of 1 lemon, 1/3 cup of pesto and 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes; rub onto a 6-pound chicken. Stuff with garlic and lemon. Roast in a 375 degree oven for about 2 hours.
45. Pesto-Sausage Chicken: Mix 1/2 pound of crumbled sausage with 1/4 cup of pesto, 1 chopped shallot and 2 Tablespoons each of breadcrumbs and grated pecorino. Stuff under the skin of 4 bone-in chicken breasts. Roast in a 375 degree oven, about 45 minutes.
46. Pesto Beans: Saute 5 sliced garlic cloves and a pinch of red pepper flakes in a skillet with olive oil. Add 2 cans of drained cannellini beans and 1 cup water; simmer until thick, 8 minutes. Stir in 3 Tablespoons of pesto and 2 Tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese.
47. Pesto Bean Soup: Make Pesto Beans (No.46). Add 3 cups of chicken broth and 1 cup of chopped celery; cook 15 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup each chopped olives and roasted peppers.
48. Pesto Mash: Boil 3 pounds of peeled russet potatoes until tender. Mash with 1 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup of olive oil and 3 Tablespoons of pesto.
49. Pesto Cornbread: Prepare an 8.5-ounce box of cornbread mix as the label directs, adding 3 Tablespoons of pesto to the batter.
50. Pesto Frites: Whisk 1/3 cup of mayonnaise, 2 Tablespoons each pesto and olive oil and 1 Tablespoon lemon juice. Serve with French fries.
Hope you got some great ideas from this! BON APPETIT! ENJOY!!!
Until next time loyal followers...
<3 Stace <3