Anything Goes Pesto: Whatever Greens and Herbs You Got, They Will Pesto

Friday, July 7, 2017

Making pesto at home is quick, easy, and satisfying—and you can use whatever combination of greens, herbs, and nuts you have on hand. Freezes beautifully, too!

Arugula. Beet Greens. Spinach. Kale. Parsley. Radish Greens. Carrot Tops. …

Pistachios. Walnuts. Almonds. Pecans. Pine Nuts. …

Whatever combination of leafy greens and herbs you got, whether fresh from the local farmers market or hanging out in your fridge waiting for some love, they *will* pesto.

My own love affair with pesto only began after I started making it at home. Sweet basil, pine nuts, olive oil, Parmigiana Reggiano, garlic, S & P is the classic Genovese. (Here’s a cooking video.) Then I did a little number with flat Italian parsley and pistachios, which quickly became my regular pesto.

More often, I’ll see I have a few different greens and herbs on hand and just go with whatever. Last time it was carrot tops, spinach, and walnuts. (Carrot tops are quite fibrous, you might find, if you don’t add another green or herb.) Then kale, arugula, pecans. Next beet greens, radish greens, kale. Sometimes I add water and/or lemon juice, plus Parm. I’ve also learned in my pesto experimentation that leaving out the cheese is really fine, creating a lower-calorie, animal-free vegan variation. Try it. It’s less expensive, too.

There are several wonderful things about all this.

First, pesto is delectable. Obviously.

Second, it lasts in the fridge at least a week. Discoloration will occur due to oxidation, but taste is unaffected. Just restir to see the greener stuff below. Coating with a bit of olive oil before storing will help reduce browning.

Third, pesto freezes beautifully, so be sure and make extra for another time. It will last a very long time (more than a year).

Fourth, while I enjoy making up special-blend pestos, more often than not I use whatever I have, transforming older salad greens and nuts from the pantry into a couple of batches. I also often do when I’m headed out of town in order to avoid wasting food, which is something I really care about.

If you’ve never made pesto before, give it a shot. It’s so much fun! And check a few dishes below using pesto, and search “pesto” here on the blog for many more ideas.


Learn more about food personality and health expert Dr. PK Newby here, or her experience as a nutrition scientist, professor, and consultant here. Or click here if you just want to ogle food porn featuring plant-based, globally inspired cooking.

Talk to Me

Please remember that your comment will be moderated and may not appear until the author approves it. Comments should be respectful of others.

Dr. P. K. Newby is a nutrition scientist, speaker, and author with expertise in all things food, farm to fork, whether preventing obesity and other chronic diseases through diet or teaching planet-conscious eating. As a health expert and food personality, she brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability to educate and inspire, helping people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Because healthy food shouldn’t suck.

Copyright © 2011-2017 P.K. Newby. All Rights Reserved.

Back to top

Talk to me

pkn@pknewby.com