15 ways to use up pesto sauce

Filed in Reduce by on May 18, 2009 22 Comments
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Pesto - use it up before it becomes food waste!

Pesto – use it up before it becomes food waste!

My house mate could sit and polish off a jar of pesto in an evening. He’d spoon it out of the jar straight into his mouth. For me it was something I’d get the occasional craving for, but after one meal I’d had enough of it for a while.

The pesto ended up turning greener than it already was in the fridge, before sporting a fury jacket and eventually becoming food waste.

Here are fifteen ways to use up pesto. Please add your suggestions to the comments below!

1- Pesto freezes well. Put it in ice cube trays and pull one out when you want to liven up a small portion of pasta.

2- Jazz up mashed potato with a teaspoon of pesto mixed in.

3- Marinade chicken breasts or lamb steaks with pesto and bake in the oven.

4- Toast a baguette, spread with pesto and top with sliced chicken left over from your Sunday roast.

5- Add to soups to enrich the taste. It’s especially yummy in tomato or minestrone soup.

6- Add to mayonnaise and serve on green salad leaves for pesto mayonnaise.

7- Spread on fish fillets, such as cod, wrap in greaseproof paper and oven bake.

8- Rub over fresh sardines and grill on the barbecue.

9- Mix pesto with ricotta cheese and use in place of traditional sauce for a quick vegetarian lasagne.

10- Toss par boiled potatoes in pesto and arrange on a roasting tin with hot oil for pesto roast potatoes.

11- Mix with crème fraiche; as a dip for crudités.

12- Mix with cubed ham and grated cheese and use in a toasted sandwich. Or used on a pizza base instead of tomato purée.

13- Mix with diced avocado and serve with cooked pasta, rice or a jacket potato

14- Mix with cold pasta, tinned tuna and sweetcorn for a pasta salad. (Great for a zero waste lunch box)

15- Add to an omelette or frittata mix.

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (22)

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  1. Deb from Boston says:

    I’m having pesto from lunch today – found the last frozen batch from last summer’s harvest of basil
    Simple – Can of white beans rinsed, 2 cups of cherry tomatotes quartered, and mix in a few tablespoons of pesto. I’ll up 1/2 the salad into a tortilla wrap. Simple!

  2. Deb from Boston says:

    Hint: to keep left over pesto, add a bit of olive oil to just cover the top of the container – mix in or pour off before using – this will help keep it from turning a dark green (which really is harmless) and will help keep it from spoiling.

  3. Mrs Green says:

    @Deb from Boston: Sounds like a yummy lunch, Deb. And thanks for the tip about the oil. I did wonder about that, but wasn’t sure. I guess the oil stops air getting to the product and spoiling it?

  4. carol b says:

    My toddler loves pesto, and her favourite way of eating it is just on plain and simple cooked pasta..easy for me, good for her.
    We made our own last year with homegrown basil – so easy to grow, so easy to make the pesto, keep it in the freezer, shave off as it’s needed. No more jars!
    Love your roast potato idea…Yummmmm

  5. greenlady42 says:

    It definitely goes well in soups ! I don’t have any right now but it would be a good addition to the ” green soup ” I’m making tomorrow ( have mentioned it before ) – tomorrow’s version will have leftover cauli cheese, leftover jacket spud innards ( the skins will be reheated as a nice crispy snack for the cook ;) ) chopped celery, ” fridge rescue ” spring onions, veg stock and spinach/peas from the freezer, yum !

  6. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Carol b :) Sounds like you have a wonderful way of making and using up pesto over there. No problems for you needing to find ways to use it up then! Your little one must be very healthy!

    Your soup sounds delicious, GreenLady – did it turn out well? I hope you enjoyed your potato skins snack – how do you heat them?

  7. Freda Nychkalo says:

    I love the pesto with basil, parsley, oil, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic and italian seasoning……..put on cooked gnocchi. Yum!! Also, great as a dip for cubed sourdough bread etc. I, too, could eat sraight from the jar.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @Freda Nychkalo: Hi Freda, welcome to the site and thanks for sharing your ideas. using up pesto as a dip for sourdough bread sounds delicious!

  9. Riverside Zoe says:

    Hi, I spoon over peppers, sweet potato, mushrooms, chicken, red onion etc, cover & roast in the oven for 40-60 minutes then mix with cous-cous. yummy!

  10. Mrs Green says:

    @Riverside Zoe: Hi Zoe, well I’m not even a pesto fan, but your idea sounds lovely! Thanks for taking time to comment and welcome to the site :)

  11. Graziano says:

    Why not make your own pesto? It’s easy, takes 15 minutes and you can reuse your jar time and time again. Plus it tastes amazing and I bet you won’t need to freeze it, it will go in two days flat. Try it, here how to do it.

    – 4 cups basil leaves, well packed
    – 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
    – 3/4 cup pine nuts or flaked almonds
    – 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmisan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano, don’t buy the grated versions, do it yourself, cheaper and taster).
    – 1/2 cups freshly grated Pecorino cheese (hard Pecorino Romano is the best)
    – 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (make sure it’s extra-virgin)
    – salt and pepper to taste

    Place basil leaves and garlic in food processor or blender and process until leaves are finely chopped. Add nuts and process until nuts are finely chopped. Add cheese and process until combined. With the machine running, add olive oil in a slow, steady stream. After the oil is incorporated, turn off the machine and add salt and pepper to taste. If not using immediately, store in an air-tight jar with a thin coating of olive oil on top to keep the sauce from turning dark. Pesto will keep well in the refrigerator for a week or more. Enjoy :)

  12. Mrs Green says:

    @Graziano: Hi Graziano, welcome to the site. Pesto is something I’ve never made; but your recipe does sound easy and as with most things; I bet it tastes like a different product to the shop bought varieties. Thanks for sharing and inspiring us!

  13. Jane says:

    It was my discovery of home made pesto which gave me the problem with old plastic pots with the remains of dead basil and earth to get rid of : – ( It really is just so much better than the bought stuff. It is also easy to make and was brilliant on fresh salmon kebabs. Apparently you can also make it with rocket instead of basil. Sadly I’ve now given it up until the weather gets warmer and I feel I can keep the pots of basil alive or find a really easy solution (yes, I could freegle but don’t think I’ve the energy to organise it).

    I’m wondering whether the local garden centre takes back plastic pots as I remember reading that some were and that seems like a very good idea.

  14. Mrs Green says:

    @Jane: Hello Jane, it’s definitely worth asking at your local garden centre about the pots; it was the Wyevale chain that was doing this throughout the summer. I tend to find that supermarket bought basil does not last well, whereas home sown will see you through the whole season. Of course, if you grow enough you can preserve it for use throughout the winter.

  15. The last spoonful of sundried tomato pesto also makes a good pizza base sauce, instead of tomato puree.

  16. Denise says:

    @Graziano:

    I have a similar recipe to yours and it is wonderful. But how do you heat yours without making it clumpy with the cheese? I want to take it to my sisters house for Christmas.

  17. Annie says:

    this may sound strange but if you toast a bagel, spread pesto over bote halves then add cheese-ordinary does fine but i like feta in it too it makes a great snack or lunch. Try it with tomato pesto and red leicester cheese too-its heavenly, especially in a sandwich of granary bread :)

  18. Mrs Green says:

    @Annie: Hi Annie; that doesn’t sound strange AT ALL – it sounds fantastic – thanks so much for sharing your idea :D

  19. Lorna says:

    I slice open a french baguette and lightly toast the inside, then spead a thin layer of pesto. Top with sliced olives, cherry tomatoes and some type of cheese (goats, Cheddar, blue) and melt under the grill. I buy pesto to make this :-)

  20. Lorna says:

    I also sometimes add a sprinkle of dried chilli flakes to add a bit of heat or just a drizzle of olive oil :-)

  21. Jim Cutler says:

    I make a homemade pizza almost every Saturday night with a thin layer of basil paste, garlic, diced tomato and mozzarella cheese. My wife and kids are crazy about it.

    It’s delicious and I think pesto would work just as well as the sauce. In fact I’ve made it before with fresh basil from my garden and basically made a pesto with it, then used it as the sauce.
    Here’s the recipe:

    http://www.whatscookingwithjim.com/recipe-items/tomato-basil-pizza/

    • Mrs Green says:

      That sounds great Jim. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your recipe :) Just the thing for some al fresco dining at the moment!

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