Why You Should Stop Buying This Sauce at the Store and Start Making It at Home

10 creative pesto recipes that prove the versatile sauce isn't just for basil.

Ever since I was a little kid, every summer, my mom has made a habit of making her famous pesto sauce using basil from her garden. And every year, my sisters and I practically beg her to make enough so that we can freeze it and use it all year long. Obviously, we realize that we could just run to Costco or Trader Joe’s and grab a jar of pesto, and in desperate times, we have. But no store-bought sauce has ever compared to my mom’s fresh, nutty, creamy, homemade pesto sauce. I put it on everything: pizza, pasta, salads, chicken, bread, crackers, sandwiches, wraps — everything. It’s that freakin’ delicious.

So the other day, when my dad came home from doing some shopping at a local produce stand and told me that one of the farmers who worked there was making pesto sauce out of kale, I was a bit confused. Kale pesto? I’d only ever enjoyed the mouthwatering goodness of the basil stuff. I was intrigued, and thanks to my friend, the Internet, I discovered that the word pesto is derived from the Italian word “pestato” or “pestare”which just means to crush or pound, usually in reference to garlic and some kind of herbs—not limited to just basil!— in olive oil. This got me thinking: what other kinds of pesto are out there? The answer? Lots.

It turns out that my beloved pesto sauce can be made from just about anything. And, whatever type of pesto you’re making, one fact remains: It’s really easy to throw together. So we say stop buying the jarred stuff and start making it at home. Not only will you save some cash, but you’ll be able to whip up creative versions of the sauce you wouldn’t find on store shelves. To get you started, below are 10 recipes for pesto sauces — from kale pesto with toasted walnuts to superfood pesto to vegan avocado pesto and more — that will spice up any boring dish, easy.

Super Kale, Hemp and Flaxseed Oil Pesto
via Cookie and Kate

This superfood pesto, loaded with kale, hemp seeds, and flaxseed oil,  proves that this tasty topping can double as a health-booster, too.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
via Cookie and Kate

Nothing says summer quite like sun-dried tomatoes, right? Bonus points if you grow the tomatoes yourself.

Vegan Avocado Pesto
via Detoxinista

This creamy avocado pesto is 100 percent vegan and nut-free, unlike most pestos, usually packed with parmesan and pine nuts. Just be warned: You will want to put this on everything.

Nutty Arugula Pesto
via The Kitchn

If you always overestimate your love of salads, loading up on pre-packed arugula mix only to eat … none of it (we’ve all been there), here’s one brilliant way to put it to use.

Kale Pesto with Toasted Walnuts
via Epicurious

The kale pesto is #kaleinit. Sorry, we had to.


Paleo Roasted Red Pepper Pesto
via Paleo Leap

This Paleo roasted red pepper pesto is a smoky, sweet-ish take on your usual pesto, and the color can’t be beat.

Lemony Pea Pesto
via Love and Lemons

Tart from the lemons, sweet from the peas, savory from the pecorino, this pea pesto is quite the flavor bomb. And an easy way to eat all your peas and make your mom proud!

Parsley-Caper Pesto
via Eating Well

Parsley lovers, rejoice: This pesto is packed with the herb, and adds a nice citrus-y punch to just about anything.

Cilantro, Spinach, Lime Pesto
via Honest Cooking

This cilantro, lime, and spinach pesto is light and citrusy for summer and is the perfect way to jazz up that boring bowl of spaghetti.

Raw Red Beet Pesto with Basil and Sunflower Seeds
via Spinach Tiger

Yes: Red beet pesto. Also known as the prettiest zoodles-topping you ever did see.

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