Waste Not

attempting to waste less and live more deliberately

Variations on a Pesto


When we discovered the wonder of pesto variations, our lives changed. Ok, perhaps that’s a bit dramatic, but we definitely ate more pesto!

After reading this wonderful post from The Kitchn: How To Make Perfect Pesto Every Time, we couldn’t wait to give it a try.


“Besides how heavenly it tastes, the other thing I love about pesto is that it can be whatever you want it to be. Traditional Italian pesto is, of course, made strictly with basil, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, and really good olive oil. It’s a classic sauce, no contest.

But you can switch out the basil for another handy herb or leafy green, replace the (crazy expensive, if delicious) pine nuts with a different favorite nut, or swap the parm for pecorino or asiago. Use more or less of anything to suit your tastes. Heck, you can even make a lower-fat pesto by replacing some of the olive oil with ricotta cheese!

Bottom line: green + nuts + cheese + olive oil = awesome sauce, literally. Whiz it up in a blender and you can’t go wrong.” –The Kitchn

Many Reasons

In addition to being incredibly tasty, a pesto variation allows you to consider cost, seasonality, availability, and gives you a chance to use up what you’ve got!  Can’t afford pine nuts? Try walnuts! Basil not in season? Try parsley, kale, or arugula.

Here is a great site to help get you thinkin’ pesto variations: Love and Lemons 

Use it up

IMG_0319Our inspiration? Some leftover greens. When I realized we also had some parmesan, walnuts, and garlic, dinner had practically made itself.


What would you substitute to turn traditional pesto into frugal pesto?



3 thoughts on “Variations on a Pesto

  1. Really nice, Ali. I started making my pesto with raw walnuts half out of convenience, and half because the only pine nuts I could find 6 months out of the year were from China and didn’t want the mega-dose of synthetic fertilizers. I know we say pesto and everyone thinks basil, but I made dinner one night with parsley pesto (fresh from the garden) and I can’t even look at basil anymore. (Seriously — parsley’s where it’s at.) BUT! I’ve been dying to try kale pesto… and apparently there’s an invasive weed on this side of the U.S. called garlic mustard that makes a mean pesto in spring / early summer.

  2. Ali! I made kale pecan pesto this weekend. It was delicious! I’m so glad you shared this!

  3. Erin — That sounds amazing and so healthy!

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