6 pesto recipes with kale, basil, carrot tops and more veggies

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One of the many reasons pesto is really great is its two-sided variability and versatility. You can make it from so many different things and also use it in so many ways.

You can stick with classic basil or mix in other herbs and vegetables. The notes are open to interpretation, or you can skip the notes and use your choice of seeds. Toss the pesto with pasta, or spread it on a sandwich or pizza base. Use it as a dip for raw vegetables or crackers.

To sample and enjoy the many ways to make pesto, here is a collection of recipes from our archives.

Classic Basil Pesto, above. This recipe from Italian cookbook legend Marcella Hazan is the kind of pesto you’ll find in Genoa, Italy. It comes together in no time in the food processor.

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Carrot Top PestoDon’t throw the greens off the top of your carrots. Use them instead to make this pesto, which also has some basil in the mix. Tip: Remove the vegetables from your carrots as soon as you take them home, and store them separately as you would herbs (usually I wrap them in a barely damp towel and put them in a bag in the produce bin). Leaving the greens on can cause the roots to go limp.

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Basil Cashew PestoNot everyone is a fan of pine nuts, especially the metallic taste that some people experience after eating them. Enter cashews. They give a rich creaminess to the pesto that is tempered by a little lemon juice.

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kale Pesto This recipe is great year round when you’re trying to eat more nutritious veggies, but it’s especially appreciated in cooler months when fresh, local herbs are on hiatus.

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Sunflower Seeds Pesto PastaInstead of nuts and herbs, this pesto uses sunflower seeds and arugula. The recipe calls for cold-pressed sunflower oil, but you can also use any other oil of your choice.

Neutral vegetable oil is boring. Nutty, buttery, cold-pressed sunflower oil is here and ready to be tasted.

Mustard Vegetables + Pecan PestoIf you like a bold pesto, go for spicy mustard greens.