Pesto Plus! – Creative Ways to Use Pesto

Creamy Pesto Dip

    Mix one 8 oz. package softened cream cheese, 1⁄4 cup milk and 3 tablespoons pesto. Beat until smooth and serve with your favorite chips.

Italian Style Scramble

    Whisk 8 eggs, 1⁄4 cup crumbled soft goat cheese, and 1⁄4 tsp. salt. Cook in buttered, 12” nonstick skillet on medium heat, stirring for 3 minutes or until just set. Transfer to platter and top with pesto.

Pasta-Salad Dressing

    Whisk 1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice, 3 Tbsp. Pesto, 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise until blended. Toss with 4 cups cooked, cooled pasta.

Fish Topping

    Top each of 4 (6 oz.) skinless salmon fillets with layer of 2 tsp. pesto, then 2 Tbsp. panko. Bake in pan in 350 degree oven 25 minutes or until cooked through.

Pesto Meatballs

    Mix 1 lb. ground turkey, 1⁄2 cup breadcrumbs, 1⁄2 cup pesto, 1⁄4 cup milk and 1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Form into small balls. Cook in a nonstick skillet with olive oil, 10 to 12 minutes. Or bake at 400 degrees, until light brown, 10 to 12 minutes.

Meatballs in Pesto Cream

    Make Pesto Meatballs. Cook until just browned, then add 1 cup chicken broth, 1⁄4 cup pesto and simmer until tender. Stir in 1⁄2 cup cream and simmer until heated through.

Pesto Burgers

    Make Pesto Meatballs but form into patties and grill. Serve on toasted ciabatta rolls with pesto, mozzarella cheese, tomato and arugula.

Pesto Pizza

    Split a loaf of French bread and brush with pesto. Top with capicola, shredded mozzarella cheese and grated Parmesan cheese. Broil until the cheese melts.

Italian BLT

    Spread pesto mixed with mayonnaise on toasted bread; fill with crisp pancetta, sliced tomato and arugula.

Pesto Fritters

    Mix 1 cup ricotta, 1 cup chopped spinach, 1⁄2 cup flour, 1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1⁄4 cup pesto and 1⁄2 tsp. baking powder. Chill 30 minutes. Deep-fry tablespoonfuls in 350 degrees vegetable oil until golden, 4 minutes. Serve with marinara sauce.

Pesto Corn

    Grill or steam corn, then brush with Basil Butter (by Doris Pogada). Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Pesto Cream Tortellini

    Simmer 1 cup heavy cream with 1⁄4 cup pesto in a skillet until slightly thickened. Stir in 1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Toss with 12 oz. cooked tortellini and 2 cups steamed broccoli.

Ricotta-Broccoli Pasta

    Toss 1 lb. cooked orecchiette with 1⁄2 cup pesto, 1⁄2 cup ricotta and 1⁄2 cup grated parmesan cheese. Add 1 bunch chopped steamed broccoli.

Pesto Primavera Salad:

    Toss 12 oz. cooked gemelli or penne with 4 cups sliced steamed vegetables, 1 cup diced mozzarella cheese, 3⁄4 cup pesto and 1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Top with toasted sliced almonds.

Potato-Pesto Pasta

    Cook 1⁄2 lb. cavatelli and 1⁄2 lb. chopped peeled russet potatoes in boiling water until tender, 8 to 9 minutes. Drain and toss with 1⁄4 cup pesto and some of the cooking liquid.

Calamari-Pesto Pasta

    Make Potato-Pesto Pasta. Saute 1 lb. calamari in a skillet with olive oil, 3 to 4 minutes. Toss with the pasta.

Pesto Mussels

    Saute 4 sliced garlic cloves in a pot with olive oil until golden, 2 minutes. Add 2 lbs. mussels and 1 cup white wine; cover and cook until the mussels open, about 4 minutes. Stir in 3 Tbsp. Pesto.

Pesto-Clam Linguine

    Make Pesto Musssels, using clams instead of mussels. Add 1⁄2 tsp. red pepper flakes. Toss with linguine.

Pesto Green Beans

    Toss 1 lb. steamed green beans with 3 Tbsp. pesto and the juice of 1⁄2 lemon.

Pancetta-Pesto Peas

    Cook 4 oz. diced pancetta in a skillet with olive oil until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon. Add 1 bag frozen peas and 1 cup water to the skillet; simmer until tender, 10 minutes. Stir in 3 Tbsp. pesto and heat through.

Pesto Orzo with Peas

    Make Pancetta-Pesto Peas (see above). Stir in 1 1⁄2 cups cooked orzo and 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese.

Pesto Potato Salad

    Cook 2 lbs. quartered new potatoes in salted boiling water until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and cool slightly. Whisk 1 cup mayonnaise, 3 Tbsp. pesto and the juice of 1 lemon. Toss with the potatoes and 1 cup diced celery.

Pesto Chicken Salad

    Whisk 3 Tbsp. pesto with 1⁄4 cup mayonnaise and 1⁄4 cup sour cream. Stir in 4 cups chopped cooked chicken, 1⁄2 cup chopped celery, 1⁄4 cup chopped red onion, 1⁄4 cup walnuts and 1⁄4 cup crisp bacon.

Pesto Egg Salad

    Whisk 1⁄4 cup mayonnaise, 2 Tbsp. pesto, 2 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. lemon juice. Fold in 8 chopped hard-boiled eggs, 1 cup chopped celery and 2 Tbsp. minced red onion.

Pesto Tuna Salad

    Toss 2 cans drained tuna, 1 can drained chickpeas, 1⁄4 cup chopped parsley, 1⁄4 cup chopped red onion, 1⁄4 cup red peppers, 3 Tbsp. pesto and 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar.

Pesto Steak

    Mix 1⁄4 cup pesto, 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar and 1 Tbsp. hot water. Grill or broil 1 1⁄4 lbs. skirt steak and brush with pesto mixture.

Pesto Frittata

    Cook 1 grated zucchini in a ovenproof skillet with butter. Stir in 1⁄4 cup chopped parsley, 2 Tbsp. pesto and 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese. Add 6 beaten eggs and cook until almost set, 3 minutes. Bake in a 350 degrees F oven until set, 15 minutes.

Pesto Lamb Kebabs

    Skewer 1 lb. cubed lamb and some red onion. Brush with a mix of 1⁄4 cup pesto and 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar. Marinate 1 hour, then grill.

Pesto Swordfish

    Mix 1⁄4 cup pesto with the juice of 1 lemon and 1 Tbsp. hot water. Spoon over grilled or broiled swordfish.

Pesto Shrimp

    Marinate 1 lb. shrimp in 2 Tbsp. pesto and 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Add 1 lemon cut into wedges and 1⁄2 tsp. red pepper flakes. Grill about 3 minutes per side. Season with salt.

Pesto Roast Chicken

    Mix the juice of 1 lemon, 1/3 cup pesto and 1 tsp. red pepper flakes. Rub onto a 6 lb. chicken. Stuff with garlic and lemon. Roast in a 375 degrees F oven, about 2 hours.

List of Basils

  • Sweet Large Leaf Italian
    • A great choice for classic Italian cooking.
    • Ht: 24-30″
  • Pesto Perpetuo
    • This basil doesn’t flower!
    • Pretty in mixed containers.
    • Ht: 18-48″
  • Minette
    • Flavorful and cute!
    • Use as you would Italian basil
    • Ht: 20″
  • Cardinal
    • Very flavorful and aromatic.
    • Use as you would Italian basil.
    • Ht: 20″
  • Dani Lemon
    • Lemon flavor and scent
    • Adds a tangy kick to fish, seafood and pasta dishes.
    • Ht: 12-18″
  • Fino Verde
    • Spicier than the Italian basils but sweet and very flavorful.
    • Perfect with fresh or cooked tomato dishes.
    • Ht: 18-30″
  • Greek
    • Well liked by chefs for its delightful scent and savory taste.
    • Use in salads, soups and meat dishes, especially poultry.
    • Ht: 8″

Infusion Tips

Infusion Tips by Sue Adams

How to get the most flavor from your herbs when infusing:

To get the essential oil out of mint, basil or sage, bruise the leaves without crushing them. You can do this by placing the leaves in the palm of your hand and clapping your hands briskly once or twice. Or you can bruise the leaves with the back of a spoon or use a muddler (bartender’s tool used like a pestle).

New at this? If the recipe calls for a 750 ml bottle of liquor, cut it down to a reasonable size so that you can try it out first. Taste as you go along so that your infusion will not be too strong. Filter out as many stray bits as you can. Cheesecloth works great, followed up by straining again through a coffee filter.
Store in a small, air-tight, sealed container.

When creating your own infusions, write down the recipe. If it’s good, you’ll want to make it again!

Lavender Sugar

Pack fresh leaves in granulated white sugar in an airtight container. Stir every day to prevent clumping. After the sugar remains dry and loose, remove the leaves before they become crumbly and use the sugar in teas and desserts or make herb candies.
Note: You can sub confectioners sugar for the granulated.

Or you can use an herb bag, like in this recipe:

  • 3 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 herb bag filled with 1/4 cup dried lavender buds and leaves
  • Scoop 1 cup of the sugar and place in an airtight container
  • Insert herb bag. Pour the rest of the sugar over top
  • Seal and store.
  • Use the flavored sugar in tea or sprinkle on fruits or desserts.

Cooking with Lavender
A little goes a long way! Start out with a small amount, and add more as you go. Simple rule of thumb when using herbs: one teaspoon of a dried herb is the equivalent of one tablespoon of fresh.