Four more weird and delicious pestos

IMG_9213In celebration of tender green things and the spring time, I like to make pesto.  Also, I tend to be very busy in the Spring and pesto is a fast way to add a homemade touch to quick food.  I am not actually a big fan of the classic basil and pine nut pesto.  I like to make weird pestos, usually to use up the last bits of some herb or leafy thing left over from another recipe.  Last spring I posted recipes for dandelion/ hazelnut, lemony kale, cilantro/sunflower and romaine pestos.  This year, I offer you mint/pistachio, pea shoot/almond, cilantro/pepita and nettle/ramp pestos for your enjoyment!

With the exception of the nettle ramp pesto, the method is the same, regardless of the ingredients.  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.

With the exception of the pistachio mint pesto, these  keep for about a week in a glass mason jar in the fridge.


This one is from Food 52.  It is amazing, but I should warn you that it looses its fresh mint flavour with time.   So it’s best to make this fresh on the day that you plan to eat it.

  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup roasted, salted, shelled pistachios
  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1/4 lime


This pesto is from Small Treats and Sweet Treats by Aran Goyoaga, which is one of my very favourite cookbooks.  I love the fresh springy flavour of pea shoots.

  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup slivered or sliced almonds
  • 2 cups pea shoots, tough stalks removed
  • 1/4  cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


This is my new favourite.  I like to add a dollop to Huevos Rancheros.  The parmesan is totally optional.

  • 1 small bunch of cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded
  • 1/3 cup toasted pepitas
  • 1/4-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic (optional)
  • the juice of half a lime
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste


This pesto has medicinal qualities.  I have been eating it to combat my allergies.  It is full of flavour and I like to drop a dollop of it into chicken soup when I am sick.

  • 1 bunch of ramps
  • 1 bunch of nettles
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts or hazelnuts
  • 1/3-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 sea salt
  • pepper
  • the juice of 1/2 lemon
  1. Set a lidded pot of water with a steamer over high heat.
  2. Using rubber gloves, rinse the nettles and then drop them into the steamer.  Cover and cook until they  are soft, bright green and lose their sting.  You may need to shift the nettles around half way through to make sure that the ones in the middle are getting cooked too.
  3. Carefully wash the ramps and chop the bulbs and greens roughly.
  4. Combine the ramps, nuts and cheese in a blender or food processor and process until everything is minced.
  5. pull the tender steamed nettles leaves off of their stems. discard the stems.  Press the extra liquid out of the nettle leaves and chop them.
  6. Add the nettle leaves to the blender and process until the mixture starts to get smooth and thick.  Add olive oil gradually (while blending) until you have achieved the desired consistency.
  7. Process the ramps and walnuts  in your food processor.
  8. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.


7 Comments Add yours

  1. Glenda says:

    Fresh saucy Spring goodness!

  2. chef mimi says:

    Maybe a little weird, but they all sound delicious! Very creative!

  3. Richard Malone says:

    My new favorite “alternative” pesto is watercress pistachio pesto! The watercress gives it a bold spiciness that compliments the garlic very nicely.

    1. That sounds fantastic Richard! I will totally try it.

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