Four Weird and Delicious Pestos

I know this is weird, but I don’t make basil pesto.  I make pesto for three reasons.

1.  I have some sad bunch of green something that I did not use in a timely fashion, but cannot stand to throw away, so I make it into pesto.   The truth is, I do not buy fresh basil that often.  The sad green thing in my fridge is usually cilantro. Sometimes it is romaine lettuce.  Sometimes it is parsley…although parsley does keep longer than cilantro).  Why is cilantro sold in such big bunches?  Does anyone know?

2.  I know that I have to eat leafy greens other than swiss chard, but I cannot bring myself to do it.  Its true.  Sometimes I am secretly eight years old.  Basil does not count as leafy green…although maybe it could?

3.  I am going through one of my phases where I only feel like cooking potato pancakes, swiss chard and poached eggs for dinner and something must be added to break up the tedium.  I am only willing to take 15 minutes to prepare one thing that will make this dinner less boring for the entire week.  Trust me, it takes longer than 15 minutes to find fresh basil that is not pathetic in my neighborhood.

So, here are four weird pestos that I like to make.  Regardless of the ingredients the method is the same.  I like to chop my ingredients a bit before I process, but if you have nice big food processor you might be able to skip this step.  Blend everything up with a bit of the oil until a thick paste forms.  Add more oil gradually as you continue to blend, until it has reached the consistency that you desire (I leave mine pretty thick).  Taste and season with salt.

The quantities in these recipes are not super exact, but I will give this in the way of advice.  Go easy on the garlic and the cheese.  To much garlic will make your pesto hard to eat and too much cheese will make it bland.  You can always add more later if you like.  Also, if it does not taste good, it probably needs more salt.

I find that pesto keep for about a week in a glass mason jar in the fridge.


Dandelion Hazelnut Pesto is from my new favourite cookbook Small Plates and Sweet Treats by Aran Goyoaga.  I encourage you to buy this cookbook.  Seriously, it is inspiring, beautiful and full of things I have never thought to cook (and I spend A LOT of time thinking about cooking).  You might think that dandelion greens are too intense and bitter for you, but you will be pleasantly surprised by this pesto.  It is good not only on potato pancakes and poached eggs but also dolloped onto any sort of roasted vegetable.  Basically it makes any sort of sweet, mild bland meal more exciting!


Romaine pesto is light and herbal.  It uses up the last few leaves of lettuce in your crisper and tastes good with potato pancakes and poached eggs with slices of tomato.  I got it from a recipe for baked eggs on the excellent food blog Smitten Kitchen.  I find baked eggs to be a pain to make, but I love this pesto.

  • 6 leaves of romaine, torn into  2 inch pieces
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup  fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
  • about 1/4 cup  extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


This one is inspired by friend Kirsten who told me once about a cilantro, sunflower seed and jalapeno pesto that she made.  It sounded delicious and I made a mental note of the fact that I almost always have all of the ingredients for it kicking around in my pantry, especially cilantro.  It is good with potato pancakes,  poached eggs and avocado.

  • 1 small bunch of cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup toasted sunflower seeds
  • 1/4-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste


My friend Kirsten also introduced me to raw kale pesto.  We work together pretty often and once we worked together on my birthday.  She brought me a totally amazing lunch from a gourmet shop that included a delicious kale pesto.  I like to try to reproduce this pesto when I am feeling like I don’t eat enough kale.  It is good on Sourdough bread, mashed potatoes, pasta and of course… potato pancakes with poached eggs!

  • 1 small bunch of kale (stems cut out)
  • a small handful of toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 small or 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1/4-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • The juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste


10 Comments Add yours

  1. Whoa, these all sound amazingly delicious! I have trouble finding dandelion greens around here, but I love the idea of adding hazelnuts to pesto– I will have to try that. The kale/lemon/walnut one sounds awesome, too. (And thanks for linking to my poached eggs recipes!)

    1. Thank YOU for posting excellent egg poaching directions!

  2. Glenda says:

    Wow! Love these fresh raw food ideas. If only we had known about dandelion hazelnut pesto when we lived at Ward’s Marina, with those lovely old hazelnut trees and meadows full of fresh dandelions.

    1. I know! That pesto is basically what the rabbits at Ward’s Marina eat!

  3. Nettle pesto is also yummy ❤ Silvi

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