How To Transform Your Leftover Pesto Into A Simple Salad Dressing

Whether you're swirling it into your canned tomato soup or incorporating it in pastry twists with parmesan, kale, and walnuts, there are plenty of good reasons to crack open a jar of pesto. But since it has more of a paste-like texture than a typical sauce, it tends to feel more dense than your average tomato or Alfredo sauce. So, instead of pouring the whole jar into your dish, you'll often have leftovers long after your pasta has been eaten — but it would be a shame to toss all that herby goodness in the trash.

Instead, whip out a few common ingredients to transform your leftover pesto into a simple salad dressing, so you can chow down on meals with this condiment for both lunch and dinner. All you need are oil and vinegar. Add these two into the jar with your leftover pesto, shake vigorously, and you have a quick, makeshift salad dressing. A classic recipe for the original condiment includes basil, garlic, pine nuts, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, and salt, so you already have plenty of herby, zesty goodness in the pesto — the oil and vinegar will just thin out the texture so it's easy to toss into a salad and add a little more tang so it feels more like a vinaigrette.

Experiment with different acidic additives

When making your vinaigrette, you'll want to wait until you have about ⅓ cup of pesto left in your jar. Then, add ½ cup of olive oil and three tablespoons of vinegar. The latter type you choose depends on what flavors you want to add to your dressing and what type of salad you're serving it on. Red wine vinegar is sour and fruity, for example, and will work well with a tortellini Greek salad, while apple cider vinegar has a sweeter and milder flavor that would pair nicely with a shaved Brussels sprouts salad.

If you don't want to bring another flavor into the mix, however, you can also thin out your pesto by simply adding the same amount of lemon juice. Since it's still an acidic ingredient, it can balance out the extra oil. And if you want to switch up the oils, feel free to use avocado oil or another neutral-flavored version instead of olive. To get a little fancier with your dressing beyond these three ingredients, you can also incorporate one tablespoon of honey or maple syrup for a little sweetness, a sprinkle of salt and pepper to wake up the flavors, or a few tablespoons of parmesan for richness. No matter which elements you go with, you'll just need to shake everything together before putting your new dressing to good use.