4 Ways

4 Ways To Make Pesto Without Basil

4 Ways to Make Pesto Without Basil

4 Ways to Make Pesto Without Basil
Pesto is an easy sauce to love. It’s fresh, flavorful, and easy to make. And it’s versatile too! Toss it with pasta, slather it on a sandwich, or use it instead of tomato sauce on pizza. While traditional pesto is typically made with basil, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese, there are so many ingredient and flavor options to try.

For your pesto enjoyment, I’ve whipped up four different types of pesto without basil, using cilantro, parsley, beets, and sun-dried tomatoes as the bases instead. The instructions for all four recipes is the same–put all of the ingredients except the oil and salt in your food processor, turn it on, and slowly pour the oil in through the feed tube until it reaches a consistency you like, stopping to scrape down the sides if needed. Season with salt and you’re done!

Ready to get your pesto fix times four? Let’s do this!

Cilantro PestoCilantro pesto can be incorporated into recipes the same way you would use basil pesto, but it also works well with Indian and Mexican food–think a dollop of cilantro pesto on a bowl of dal or spread onto a veggie-packed quesadilla. I used roasted walnuts, but you can use cashews or almonds if you have them on hand.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
If there’s one food that adds instant spunk to a recipe, it’s sun-dried tomatoes! Sun-dried tomato and caper pesto is perfect on pizza and is also great for making lazy-man pasta after work. It’s so full of flavor that you don’t need many other ingredients for adding pizazz to a meal. You can add a couple of tablespoons of pine nuts or parmesan cheese to this sauce, but I find this simple recipe to be delicious as is!

Beet Pesto
If you’re a beet lover, you must try beet pesto! My favorite use for beet pesto is to smear it on toasted bread with melted cheese and thick slices of avocado. Beet pesto may as well be called “superfood sauce” because it’s packed with nutrients! To make the roasted beets for this pesto, peel and cut your beets into 1 1/2-inch pieces, wrap them in foil, and bake them at 400º for 40 to 50 minutes, until tender. Allow the beets to cool completely before making the pesto.

Parsley Pesto
Pesto is the perfect place to stick your leftover parsley! Rarely do I skip the parsley when a recipe calls for it; however, most recipes only require a small amount. This means I end up with almost an entire bunch of parsley, with nowhere to put it. Enter: parsley pesto. Just like cilantro pesto, it can be used the same way as a traditional pesto–toss it with pasta, use it on pizzas, or use it as a sandwich spread.

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47 Comments

  • Reply
    Anne @AVeganAdventure
    May 6, 2014 at 7:59 am

    I’ve been experimenting with different pestos — I love arugula — but never would have thought of using beets. They all look fantastic. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      May 6, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      You’re very welcome, Anne! I love the idea of arugula pesto because I absolutely adore the stuff. I bet it makes a wonderful sauce. This will be next on my pesto agenda!

  • Reply
    Abby @ The Frosted Vegan
    May 6, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Allll these kinds of pesto are my JAM! I love using up greens and veggies to make pesto!

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      May 6, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      High fives to pesto lovers! I’ve been sticking the sauces anywhere a sauce can go…which means I’ve been one happy camper in the food department lately. Le us know if you give any of the recipes a go 😀

  • Reply
    Courtney @ The Fig Yree
    May 6, 2014 at 9:10 am

    Roasted beet pesto! What a great idea! So unique. Cannot wait to try it. I love using leftover herbs to make pesto to freeze and have on hand. I’m on a huge cilantro kick these days, so I’m definitely going to try the cilantro pesto ASAP 🙂

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      May 6, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      Thanks, Courtney! I’ve been putting my beet pesto on salads and on roasted vegetables – I absolutely love it! Hope you enjoy the cilantro pesto and let us know what you think 🙂

  • Reply
    Lindsey @ American Heritage Cooking
    May 6, 2014 at 11:36 am

    I am dying for your sundried tomato pesto! It looks sooo good! Beets?!?! Crazy inspired!

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      May 6, 2014 at 1:23 pm

      Truth: I ate the sun-dried tomato pesto with a spoon before I could use it in a recipe. No joke. It is that good 🙂 So happy you’re excited about the pestos!

  • Reply
    Isadora @ she likes food
    May 6, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    I’m in love with the cilantro pesto! My mind is going crazy right now thinking of all the amazing ways I can use it!! Like you, I use parsley and cilantro for a lot of my recipes and am often left with a bunch of it after using just a few sprigs. Next time I find myself in that predicament, I will just pesto them 🙂

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      May 6, 2014 at 1:22 pm

      Heck yes! I actually have yet another bunch of cilantro and parsley that need to be used up, so I’ll be making more pesto soon. I love that it’s the perfect use for excess herbs, and love even more than you can freeze pesto and easily thaw it for later use. So happy this was a helpful post and thanks for your kind comment!!

  • Reply
    Jean
    May 6, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    I have a bumper crop of chives, do you think chive pesto is a viable use for them? What additional ingredients do you think would compliment it? I can’t wait to try the beet pesto recipe, I hae 3 beets I just got from my CSA and now have a different use for them.

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      May 6, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      I’m intrigued by the idea of chive pesto, although I think it may end up being too spicy…It’s worth a try and if the flavor is too strong, you could always add an herb like mint or basil. If you want to try the beet pesto, perhaps add the chives to it! Hope you have fun on your pesto adventure and let us know if you have any more questions!

      • Reply
        Jean
        May 9, 2014 at 9:42 am

        I made the chive pesto a couple of nights ago and it was amazing. I put copius amounts of chives into my food processor and then added grated parmesan, almonds and a dash of sea salt. I whipped that for a few seconds, just til it was combined, and then streamed roasted garlic grapeseed oil in until it hit the right consistency. I put it all in little mason jars in the fridge. The next day I used it as a spread on my sandwich. OH MY! It was good. I was surprised at how much it thickened. I guess the parm did that to it. It is the perfect consistency for a spread. Tonight it will be thinned with a little more roasted garlic grapeseed oil and tossed with pasta. Yum!

        • Reply
          Julia
          May 9, 2014 at 10:23 am

          Jean, that sounds great!! I had no idea you could make pesto using chives – now that I know, I’ll definitely be making it – I adore chives.

          I add oil in order to thin out pesto after it has sat in the refrigerator, too. – I’ve actually added water in the past and this seems to work well. Thanks so much for letting us know about your chive success and have a great weekend!

  • Reply
    Holly
    May 6, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    I have parsley staring me down in my kitchen right now and, hooray!, I now know how to use up the rest of it, thanks!

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      May 6, 2014 at 1:18 pm

      Yes! I LOVE the parsley pesto! I actually used it on pizza last night and it was amazing. I will no longer feel bad about buying a bunch of parsley to use as garnish for photos, haha! Into the pesto it goes 🙂

  • Reply
    regina
    May 6, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    These all look so yummy, I can’t wait to try them! Thank you!!!!

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      May 6, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      You’re welcome, Regina! Enjoy.

  • Reply
    Jennie @themessybakerblog
    May 6, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Julia, I love this post! I adore slathering pesto on my grilled cheese sammies and tossing it with pasta and lots of cheese.

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      May 6, 2014 at 4:02 pm

      Oh man, I didn’t use any of the pesto from this post on a grilled cheese! Welp…looks like I need to whip up another 4 batches 😉 So glad you like all them pestos, Jennie!

  • Reply
    Phi @ The Sweetphi Blog
    May 6, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    I loooove a good pesto and a few weeks ago made a cilantro one but haven’t tried the other methods…challenge accepted 🙂 Thanks for sharing this awesome list!

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      May 6, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      You got it, my friend! I hope you enjoy the other versions 😀

  • Reply
    Emma
    May 6, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Great post, thank you! I actually just finished eating a lazy pasta dinner with brocc, chickpeas and BASIL pesto. I definitely want to give some of these variations a try.

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      May 6, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      That sounds delicious! Hope you enjoy these recipes!

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    May 6, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Wow, these all pestos look so good! beet pesto? Sounds interesting!

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      May 6, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      Thanks Ami! Yup, beet pesto is definitely different from your average sauce. But it’s so flavorful and healthy!

  • Reply
    lisacng @ expandng.com
    May 6, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    These all sound good, especially cilantro which I love and beets which I am always stumped about what to do with.

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      May 7, 2014 at 11:09 am

      Ah yes, pesto is a great place for beets. Especially for those who need to mask some of the beet-y flavor a little 🙂 Enjoy!

  • Reply
    Samantha
    May 6, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    This is great! Is there any other nut in the parsley pesto that you’ve found also works besides cashews? I’m allergic.

    • Reply
      Julia Mueller
      May 7, 2014 at 11:10 am

      Thanks, Samantha! I feel like you can’t go wrong using most nut and herb combinations. My first choices would be roasted almond or walnuts, but you could also do pine nuts or pecans. Let us know what you end up deciding and enjoy!

  • Reply
    [email protected] Beard and Bonnet
    May 7, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    These are amazing!! I cannot wait to try each and every one of them:)

    • Reply
      Julia
      May 9, 2014 at 10:23 am

      Thanks Meg! Excited to hear what you think!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Rasa @ The Vixen Life
    May 8, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Thank you for the ideas! I recently made a pea shoot pesto, but had not considered using something like beets when making pesto. Can’t wait to try it (especially on the sandwich you described!)

    • Reply
      Julia
      May 9, 2014 at 10:25 am

      I’ve been meaning to make pea shoot pesto – it sounds lovely and so spring-y! I hope you enjoy the beet pesto – it’s one of my go-to sandwich spreads, especially for a toasty sandwich with gobs and gobs of avocado. Glad you’re interested in trying out both the beet pesto and the sando!

  • Reply
    Mani @ A New Life Wandering
    May 8, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    yum! these all look great. I just roasted three big beets yesterday and got no big plans for them, beet pesto sounds perfect!

    • Reply
      Julia
      May 9, 2014 at 10:36 am

      I tend to roast huge amounts of beets all at the same time too! I chop them up and put them in my salads for the most part. But whenever I end up with an over-stock of roasted beets, it’s nice knowing I can just toss them in the blender and make pesto. Let us know if you try the recipe!

      • Reply
        Mani @ A New Life Wandering
        May 9, 2014 at 7:41 pm

        Would red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or apple cider vinegar work instead of the white wine for the beet pesto? Those are the ones I have right now.

        • Reply
          Julia
          May 10, 2014 at 2:06 pm

          Hi Mani! Actually, all of those would work but balsamic vinegar sounds the best to me. It’d probably give the pesto a nice depth of flavor! Let me know how the pesto turns out!!

          • Mani @ A New Life Wandering
            May 12, 2014 at 8:07 pm

            Hi Julia!

            In the end I made it with 2 tbsp of lemon juice and 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar, I also added parmesan cheese.
            My husband and I both loooved it.
            We had it on sandwiches three days in a row, spread on ciabatta bread topped with tomatoes and avocado the first time, then tomatoes and cucumbers, and lastly just tomatoes. So delicious.

  • Reply
    Hilary
    May 9, 2014 at 1:22 am

    I freeze my basil pesto each summer and enjoy using it year round. Do you know if these variations freeze as well as basil pesto does? Do they hold their flavor and color when frozen for a while?

    • Reply
      Julia
      May 9, 2014 at 10:35 am

      Hi Hillary! Freezing the cilantro and parsley pestos will work just fine. These herbs are actually heartier than basil, so they may fare even better in the freezer than basil pesto.

      I would avoid freezing the sun-dried tomato pesto because I think the consistency would turn out strange. The beet pesto is a wild card…I personally wouldn’t freeze it, because I assume it would darken when frozen and then get watery when thawed, but I’ve never tried it so I can’t be sure. Let us know if you try it out, though!

      I kept all of these pestos in my refrigerator for two weeks (using parts of them within that two-week timeframe) and they all kept wonderfully. In fact, they probably could have lasted longer, but I didn’t want to push it. If you plan to use the pesto within a two weeks I’d say there’s no need to freeze.

  • Reply
    Laura @ Kneadwhine
    May 9, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Great range of pesto recipes there! Funnily enough, I have one going up on my blog on Sunday! 🙂

    • Reply
      Julia
      May 10, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      Awesome! Can’t wait to see it, Laura! Hope your weekend is going well 🙂

  • Reply
    John
    May 9, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Beet pesto? I’m intrigued. I’ll have a few less pickled beets to can, but it could be worth it.

    • Reply
      Julia
      May 10, 2014 at 2:08 pm

      Oh yes, if you enjoy beets, you’ll love the sauce 🙂 Worst case scenario, you could pawn it off on your beet-loving friends 😉 Just kidding, it’s really a wonderful sauce. I used it on pizza this week and it was one of the best pizzas I’ve had. Have a great weekend, John!

  • Reply
    Pesto1
    October 10, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    what makes a pesto a pesto?

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