Warm weather brings great seasonal foods – corn, tomatoes and herbs! This weekend, my mom was in town and I asked her to take me to our local plant nursery and help me create my herb garden, since she is blessed with a green thumb. We chose rosemary, thyme, parsley, lavender and basil for this year. After all of our herb-y discussions, I decided to make pesto as part of my dinner for that night!

In my opinion, pesto is one of those foods that makes EVERYTHING taste good. But, not many people know that you can make pesto with practically anything, as long as you incorporate some fat (nuts and oil), leafy green, and of course cheese and garlic.

So today, I’m providing you with a few of my favorite pesto recipes. Any of the below recipes can be slathered onto a chicken breast, stirred into whole wheat pasta or used to make a delicious pizza.

Side Note: You can make a whole bunch of pesto and freeze it for use at a later time. Many people suggest freezing it in ice cube trays so you have individual servings. I would have made a bunch, but alas, my mini-prep just wouldn’t cut it for this. Definitely need a bona fide Cuisinart…


REGULAR BASIL PESTO – Courtesy Food Network
4-6 Servings

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the basil, salt, and pepper and process for a few seconds until the basil is chopped. Add the cheese, pine nuts, and garlic and, while the processor is running, add the oil in a thin, steady stream until a mostly smooth sauce is formed.

SPINACH-WALNUT PESTO – Courtesy Food Network
4-6 Servings

4 ounces chopped walnuts
10 ounces (1 package) baby spinach
2 cloves garlic
2/3 cup grated Parmigiano or Romano
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or freshly grated
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Toast walnut pieces in a small pan or toaster oven until lightly browned. Remove from heat and cool.

Using a food processor, working in batches, grind spinach leaves with nuts and garlic. Transfer ground spinach nut paste to a large bowl. Stir in the cheese, nutmeg, and olive oil, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

4-6 Servings

1 (8.5-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
2 garlic cloves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Blend the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil, garlic, salt and pepper, to taste, and basil in a food processor and blend until the tomatoes are finely chopped. Transfer the tomato mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the Parmesan.

I hope you’ve enjoyed Hillman’s Helpings!


Lauren Hillman
Hillman’s Helpings