Enjoy the BEST recipes with pesto sauce this summer! Fresh basil, parmesan, and nuts add tons of flavor to appetizers, pastas, and more.
Basil Pesto Sauce
Fresh pesto sauce is one of the best things about the heat of summer! Plentiful basil makes the best herby sauce, and it works with SO many dishes. Even store-bought pesto adds tons of flavor without a lot of work. It’s the perfect ingredient to keep in the pantry or freezer for quick, delicious dishes.
Pesto with a twist
Pesto is traditionally made with basil leaves, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. You can make a similarly tasty sauce with different herbs, nuts, and cheeses! Consider these substitutions for an interesting twist on these pesto recipes:
- Use different greens – Spinach, parsley, cilantro… You can make a tasty pesto-type sauce with lots of greens! You can even use a mixture of different herbs and greens for complex flavors. You may come closer to a chimichurri or other sauce, but it’ll still be delicious!
- Try multiple cheeses – Parmesan is a classic for a reason; it’s delicious and the perfect texture for this sauce. However, adding a mixture of Romano, asiago, or other hard, strong cheeses will give you a lovely flavor.
- Experiment with nuts – Pine nuts are the classic choice, but tons of nuts will give you a great taste and texture! Walnuts are a very popular substitute, but consider using pistachios, almonds, or even sunflower seeds.
The Best Recipes with Pesto
Pesto packs so much flavor in such a small amount! Here are some of our favorite recipes that use pesto to maximize flavor and minimize work.
Easy Dinners with Pesto
Having a jar of pesto in the fridge is like having a secret weapon. With a scoop of one ingredient, you’re adding a cheesy, herby, nutty flavor that is easy to incorporate! This Easy Pesto Chicken is perfect for a dinner after a busy weeknight… Barely any cleanup! If you prefer something on the grill, try this Chicken with Pesto Cream Sauce. Pesto Chicken Sliders are great for a potluck dish–Comes together quickly, is easy, and everyone loves the flavor.
Pesto Pasta & Pizza Recipes
When you need easy and comforting, pasta + pesto has you covered! This One Pan Creamy Pesto Penne is a dream after a long day. If you’re feeling more ambitious and want to enjoy a fresh, balanced dish, you’ll love this Grilled Pesto Chicken Pizza! For a make-ahead dish that is super potluck friendly, try this Tortellini Pasta Salad.
Favorite Pesto Appetizers & Snacks
When you just need a bite, a simple recipe with few ingredients and minimal cooking is ideal. Keto Pesto Chicken Ravioli only requires 4 ingredients, and it’s low-carb and simple. These Chicken and Pesto Stuffed Peppers are great on a hot day and are easy to take for lunch, too! Pesto Chicken Dip is a major favorite at parties–It works great with sliced veggies, toasted bread, or little crackers!
Just add a dollop of pesto!
You don’t need a special recipe to bring out the pesto sauce… It can instantly elevate tons of simple dishes! Add it to some grilled chicken and mozzarella in this easy Chicken Margherita recipe. For a great start to the day, use it first thing in the morning on these Pesto Eggs. Want a flavorful side dish but don’t want to work too hard for it? These Smashed Potatoes with Pesto are perfectly low-maintenance and SO good!
Can you freeze pesto?
Yes, pesto is simple and easy to freeze! This means you can make several big batches during the summer, then freeze to enjoy that delicious flavor all year long. I prefer freezing some in 1-ounce portions in these cute trays so that I can easily pop a little into a creamy sauce or add extra flavor to soup. These 1/2-cup or 1-cup bricks are also convenient and defrost easily for fresh-tasting pesto any time.
More Great Summer Recipes:
- Caprese Salad – This is a great meal prep recipe for a quick snack or easy side dish. A cornbread salad or grape salad are also big hits at cookouts!
- Sugar Free Popsicles – Peanut buttery and chocolatey for a creamy treat you’ll love! Adults might love these boozy Strawberry Margarita Popsicles instead.
- BBQ Chicken Foil Pack – No dishes to clean up after this meal! Try a steak and mushroom combo or this easy sausage and broccoli mix.
- 20+ of the BEST Zucchini Recipes – This is a list we work with all summer long to use up that good garden squash!
- 3 cups packed fresh basil
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup parmesan
- 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (see notes for toasting instructions)
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. Taste and add any additional salt, pepper or lemon juice as needed.
This makes approximately 3/4 cup fresh pesto.
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Serving Size:2 tablespoons
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 160Total Fat: 16.6gCholesterol: 3.2mgSodium: 176mgCarbohydrates: 1.8gNet Carbohydrates: 1.1gFiber: 0.7gProtein: 2.7g