Beyond basil: a pesto primer

This article was originally published in April 2012

Think pesto and most thoughts turn to verdant, fragrant basil. But the word pesto simply refers to the aromatic paste that results from pounding or crushing each ingredient down to its essence. Pesto based on cilantro, arugula, parsley or red peppers creates wonderful canvases that enable fresh flavor combinations to shine.


Recipes to try

Classic Basil Pesto and several variations:


Put your pesto to delicious use:

  • as a savory spread atop warm bread
  • to finish a steak
  • tossed with pasta
  • mashed with white beans for a vegetable dip
  • brushed on shrimp before grilling
  • as a condiment on sandwiches and burgers
  • mashed into baked potatoes
  • as a marinade for chicken or fish
  • stirred into scrambled eggs, soup or risotto just before serving



When life gives you a bumper crop of ingredients, make a bigger batch. Freeze your pesto in an ice cube tray for a handy serving size. Pop out the cubes when frozen and store in a zip-top bag or jar so it’s ready to lend a boost to all manner of recipes.


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