Few dishes celebrate summer’s delicious bounty better than a good pesto. The lack of cooking leaves its freshness intact, while the peak availability of herbs offers dishes a burst of sunny flavor. As an added bonus, pesto is so versatile that if pasta’s not your game, there are so many other ways to use this deliciously green taste of summer!
Generally, pesto includes a generous fistful of basil along with some garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese, which come together for a beautifully blended sauce. But did you know that you can swap out two ripe avocados for the Parmesan to create a creamy, versatile pesto suitable for vegans and non-vegans alike?
You’ll know your avocados are ripe when they yield to slight pressure (easy does it!) without caving in around your thumb. If your avocados aren’t quite there, and you want to speed up the process, grab a brown paper bag and toss your avocados in it, along with a banana, and they’ll be ripe in no time at all!
Once your pesto is ready, you have a world of options to use up every last bit. You can take the classic approach and add your pesto to some freshly cooked noodles, topping it off with some grated Parmesan. If you find the consistency too thick, simply loosen it up with a little bit of warm pasta water.
Or try toasting up some baguette rounds and — presto pesto! — you have a tasty little hors d’oeuvres platter ready to go. Turn your flavor dial to maximum by substituting your newly blended pesto for other popular spreads on your sandwiches. Not only is it an added burst of flavor, but it’s super creamy.
While we’re on the path of updating our pesto recipe, you can also use this delicious mix as a flavor enhancer on your grilled cheese sandwiches. Vibrant green and citrusy notes burst through all that gooey good cheese.
You can also use pesto as a dip instead of hummus. Just chop up some crunchy peppers and cucumbers, roll out the cherry tomatoes, and dip to your heart’s delight. And if you feel like you need more green, add some spinach to your blender before you blitz your pesto.
Any leftovers can also be refrigerated for up to five days — just make sure to place a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of your pesto in order to prevent oxidization (and the brown color that follows).