It’s the end of summer, and gardens around the country are overflowing with beautiful, aromatic herbs. While this bountiful news is very welcome for flavour-craving home cooks, it can also be a little daunting. One can only garnish so many pizzas with fresh basil, and there’s a limit to the amount of tacos one can top with cilantro. But don’t let those gorgeous greens go to waste; instead, make pesto.

From classic basil-pine nut to a more modern kale-walnut creation, there are countless pesto possibilities and combinations to inspire new dishes and brighten up old favourites.

5-pestos-summer

Classic Basil Pesto
In a food processor, blend 2 cups packed fresh basil, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil and salt, to taste. Continue to blend until a thick, green paste forms.

 Parsley and Pistachio Pesto
In a food processor, blend 1 1/2 cups packed fresh parsley leaves, 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives, 1/3 cup pistachios, 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil and salt, to taste. Continue to blend until a thick, green paste forms.

Cilantro, Mint and Pumpkin Seed Pesto
In a food processor, blend 1 cup packed fresh cilantro (including tender stems), 1 cup packed fresh mint leaves, 1/2 cup toasted unsalted pumpkin seeds, 1/3 sliced green onion, the zest and juice of 1 lime, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil and salt, to taste. Continue to blend until a thick, green paste forms.

Arugula and Almond Pesto
In a food processor, blend 2 cups packed baby arugula, 1/2 cup toasted almonds, zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1 minced garlic clove, 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil and salt, to taste. Continue to blend until a thick, green paste forms.

kale-pesto

Kale and Walnut Pesto
In a food processor, blend 11/2 cups packed green kale leaves including ribs, tough ends discarded, 1/2 cup packed fresh parsley leaves, 1/2 cup Asiago cheese, 1/3 cup toasted walnuts, 1 minced garlic clove, 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil and salt, to taste. Continue to blend until a thick, green paste forms.

How To Store Pesto
Store pesto airtight in the refrigerator with a thin layer of olive oil over top to avoid oxidation and preserve that vibrant green colour. Or, spoon into an ice cube tray and freeze; pop out pesto “ice cubes” and store in a zip-top bag for portioned use throughout the fall and winter.

How To Enjoy Your Resh Pesto
– Mix pesto with your favourite vinegar to create an herbaceous salad dressing
– Mix pesto with mayonnaise to create a herby dipping sauce for kebabs, vegetables and chips
– Spread pesto onto sandwiches, burger buns or avocado toast
– Dress warm or cold pasta with pesto for a vibrant pasta dinner or lunchtime pasta salad
– Add a pop of freshness to soups and stews with a dollop of pesto on top
– Mix pesto with cream cheese for a fresh bagel topper
– Mix pesto into quiches, frittatas or spoon into omelettes

While you have the food processor out, try your hand at a few more pesto variations.