Basil Isn't The Only Green You Should Use To Make Pesto

Pesto is a delicious condiment and super easy to whip up at home. The classic recipe calls for a blend of basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and parmesan cheese and is commonly used as a sauce for pasta — however, this little flavor bomb can be used for so much more. Slather it on as a sauce for pizza or put a dollop between two pieces of bread to upgrade a simple turkey sandwich. CookSmarts suggests using pesto as a mix-in with softened butter as a topping to elevate toast, meats, and vegetables.

This green powerhouse of flavor can be easily changed by adding different ingredients based on personal taste. If you want your pesto to have a spicy kick, toss in some red pepper flakes to add a bit of color (via MasterClass). A jalapeño would make a zesty addition while enchanting the vibrant green color of pesto. So as you can tell, this green, rich concoction is versatile — so much that you can completely replace the basil with other greens and fresh herbs.

Switch it up with leafy greens and other types of nuts

If you want to switch up the flavor of your pesto, leafy greens make great substitutes. Masterclass explains that heartier greens like chard and kale need extra TLC before being made into pesto. Those greens must be blanched to tamp down the bitterness and keep the pesto's vibrant green color. Softer greens like arugula and spinach can simply be blended without extra steps. Since pesto has no bounds when it comes to the greens that are used, fresh herbs are another excellent alternative. Cilantro pesto is a simple twist on the classic, adding a slightly citrusy flavor, per Raspberries and Kohlrabi. Carrot tops are also an unexpected ingredient that could overhaul your typical pesto. Using the tops not only imparts great flavor but also helps to cut down on food waste.

As well as switching up the greens, the pine nuts can also be swapped out. According to Martha Stewart, you can use any you prefer, so long as the nuts have been toasted before being mixed in. Toasting the nuts brings out the nutty, earthy flavor that will only enhance the pesto. Some recommendations include walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, and peanuts. And, if you really want to take it up a notch, try your hand and palate with a mint almond pesto.