Basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan and olive oil are undeniably a killer combination but for the adventurous pesto lover, any ingredient is fair game. Everything from watercress to wild garlic, broad beans to broccoli can be blitzed into brilliant sauces…
If you're bored of basil and itching to try other iterations of your favourite sauce, then you're in luck. We've tested the whole gamut of ingredients to bring you 11 top notch recipes you're going to love. Who would have guessed that parsley, watercress and even frozen peas make a cracking pesto? Spread it, swirl it or slather it on pasta. The options are endless.
Dipping into DIY can be daunting but our homemade pesto guide has all the info you need to perfect your pesto. Check out our how to make pesto video to hone your skills. This is the ultimate storecupboard sauce, a handful of nuts, a splash of olive oil, garlic and whatever fresh herbs or veg you have to hand and you're away. Pesto is difficult to mess up. Sticking all the ingredients in a blender or giving them a pound with a pestle and mortar is a sure-fire way to a simple supper. Consistency is down to personal preference. Keep tasting along the way to decide if you need a sprinkling more of this or that.
Our favourite pesto recipes...
Put your foraging finds to good use and whizz up wild garlic with pine nuts, lemon and Parmesan for a fresh new take on the traditional pesto. This wild pesto will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge. Try it out on our nettle gnudi with wild pesto.
Also available in the plentiful pesto range is the watercress variety. Stalks and all, it works well with wholewheat pasta or courgetti. Our nutty watercress pesto contains Brazil nuts too.
We all know it's good for us but there's a limit to how many ways we can enjoy kale. Blend it finely into our 5-star rated kale pesto using this super simple 10-minute method and that's another. Delicious!
Our broccoli pesto pizza recipe shows just how versatile this sauce can be. Made without cheese, the pizza has ricotta added to mild yet vibrant effect.
Give your pesto a pop of colour and an earthy sweetness. Blend peppers with the base ingredients to make it as smooth or chunky as you like, stir into pasta and enjoy. This walnut & red pepper pesto pasta recipe is one to keep coming back to.
Avocado naturally lends itself to being blended with other flavours and gives sauces a creamy, indulgent quality. Try our chicken, broccoli & beetroot salad with avocado pesto for a healthy, nutrient-packed dish.
Chives make a light but punchy pesto and the olive oil and lemon juice balance out the flavours perfectly. Our gnocchi with lemon & chive pesto makes a satisfying alternative to pasta and is great for vegetarians. It's also good for spreading on bruschettas and as a dip.
This spaghetti with pea & mint pesto is a delicate twist on the old favourite. The peas add another veg to your meal and it's a familiar flavour that's popular with kids. You can use frozen peas for convenience. It's budget-friendly too.
Swap basil for parsley and pine nuts for hazelnuts and you've got a great-tasting alternative. Parsley and hazelnut pesto is one you won't find on supermarket shelves and is a real treat for the tastebuds.
Perhaps you wouldn't expect to find these mixed into pesto but broad beans make a simple, delicious sauce. Crushed broad bean pesto is not only great stirred into pasta but is the perfect mid-morning snack spread on toast and topped with cheese.
What's your favourite pesto pot recipe? Let us know in the comments section below...