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Pesto ideas -- non-pasta/low carb

Over the weekend, I made a big batch of pesto with the gorgeous basil from my farmers' market. Have already had with gemelli, and it's very very good. I'm trying to watch my carb intake and am limiting pasta so I'd appreciate some inspiration on other ways to use up the pesto. I've already thought of chicken salad with pesto, schmear pesto on beefy tomatoes and enjoy as a first course, and obviously, licking it right off the spoon... it's so good. I bet a pesto shrimp salad would be good. Does it go well with fish? I've checked epicurious and I want ideas from you guys.


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  1. Pesto, at least for me, is great on fish. I also like it on ribbons of zucchini and on spaghetti squash. Chicken breast sandwich. Actually, a tomato and fresh mozzarella panini is perfect. Unfortunately, every other suggestion I have involves carbs.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chaddict

      My first thought as to make thin egg crepes without flour in a non-stick pan and then stack them and cut them into thin ribbons like linguine, then toss with your pesto.

      1. re: niki rothman

        this sounds delicious! I am so excited to eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Do you flip the "crepe"?

    2. Pesto roasted chicken: smear a little under the skin and on the outside of a chicken, then roast as usual.

      1. You can also stick some in the freezer for use at another time. It holds up pretty well.

        2 Replies
        1. re: valerie

          I usually do that, in ice cube trays, but I forgot and added in all the cheese, which I leave out if I remember and intend to freeze. So, I'd like to use it up. The roast chicken idea sounds good. Unfortunately the panini ideas involve carbs in the bread! LOL... Any others?

          1. re: yumyum

            I know! I can't get away from the carbs. Just make a mozzarella and tomato stack w/ the pesto, skip the bread.

        2. I serve it with chicken paillard - maybe adding a little more olive oil than I would for pasta, since I think the residual water on the pasta dilutes the pesto just slightly. You could also melt some mozzarella on the chicken breasts first.

          1. It's definitely good on salmon--smear some on and grill wrapped in foil. I imagine it would be good on other fish, too, or shrimp.

            1. The first time I ever had pesto (this is some 25 years ago!) it was stuffed in button mushrooms and baked. I liked it so much I made the effort to try and make pesto myself (and this is when I wasn't much of a cook and when pine nuts came in a small jar in the spice section for 7 bucks!)

              1. It's nice to swirl in soups and/or dips.

                Use it to baste grilled veggies or meats.

                Inside omelets (even beaten into the eggs); as salad dressing; on top of baked brie; as a stuffing for rolled chicken breasts; etc.

                2 Replies
                1. re: piccola

                  Yeah, a dollop of pesto is great on grilled fish. Ditto on spaghetti squash. Last week I had a big batch of pesto and did chicken breast, sliced into strips, quickly sauteed and tossed with steamed zucchini and pesto. Delish, and so quick and easy!

                  1. re: piccola

                    I love pesto beat into scrambled eggs. It adds a nice depth to an omelette, and perks up just plain scrambled eggs.

                  2. Pesto on top of any fish is great! You also might want to mix it in with a hearty veggie like eggplant so it's pasta 'ish' but without the major carbs! :)


                    1. Can you eat the whole grain pasta? Barilla makes a good one. I am (sorrowfully) limiting white flour grains, etc.

                      1. 1. mix with goat cheese and serve in cherry tomatoes or on slices of cucumber or as a vegetable dip.
                        2. mix into your homemade hummous and serve with veggie dippers.
                        3. use it in a vinaigrette and top salads or fish or chicken

                        1. I like to add pesto to ricotta, for a nice dip for veggies and bread.

                          Leftovers of this "dip" make a great filling for omelettes.

                          1. Portobello pizza! Preheat oven to 500. Thickly slice the mushrooms and saute in a olive oil until tender. Place mushrooms on a cookie sheet Top w/ pesto and mozzerella cheese and bake until cheese is bubbly and sarting to brown.

                            1. You could
                              ...stuff a chicken brast
                              ...mix with goat cheese
                              ...add to potatoes, sundried tomatoes & corn for a summer salad
                              ...steam mussels or clams wine & garlic and mix in pesto & tomatoes at the end for a finishing touch (oh the humanity of mixing cheese with shellfish!)
                              ...top mozzerella grilled portabellos
                              ...add to an unorthedox Caprese salad

                              1. Also forgot: use in deviled eggs. Works great!

                                1. Love all the ideas, guys. Especially the eggy ones -- anything that will help me eat breakfast is super.

                                  Also love the portobello ideas... and stuffed mushrooms.

                                  Great great great. Thanks.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: yumyum

                                    I routinely use jarred pesto (Costco) as a salad dressing. Just mix a tablespoon of it with some lemon juice - it's delicious.

                                    1. re: yumyum

                                      Have you ever poached eggs in a lovely tomato sauce? (Perfect together because neither the sauce nor the eggs should boil; the lowest simmer is as far as you should let them go.) Wonderful. I imagine swirling some pesto in the sauce would also be lovely (but I would add it off heat, once the eggs are to your preferred level of doneness, because pesto really should not be cooked over heat, else you distort the basil flavors).

                                    2. At a place called the Academy Grill on Cape Cod (in Orleans) I had a dinner a few years back that was basically a big plate of nicely roasted veggies with fresh mozzarella melted on it but was incredibly good. Something like that with some pesto spread on the veggies before you melt on the cheese could meet your low-carb requirement.

                                      1. brush it on some pork chops and grill-- it'll help form a nice crust, and give it a great rusticity of flavor. just did this last night, and for the exact same reason. i've got lots of great basil coming out of my garden, and i'm running out of ideas!

                                        1. Another idea - if you're using cauliflower to replace potatoes, as many lowcarbers do, pesto will add so much flavour! It works in mashed cauliflower, roasted cauliflower and cauliflower salad.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: piccola

                                            I, too am watching carbs and the pesto cauliflower suggestion caught my eye. That sounds awesome!! I make a faux mac and cheese with cauliflower and adding pesto to the mix would be delicious, I think! Thanks for the suggestion.

                                          2. Try an eggplant and portabella mushroom stack. Marinate the mushrooms and some thick eggplant slices with pesto and griddle cook until cooked, but still firm. Then cooked some canned chickpeas with pesto and alternate a stack the eggplant and mushrooms with the chickpeas.

                                            You've already got suggestions for salads and stuff. Try it in a soup like a gremolata. Or make a basil oil by adding some to a good olive oil and drizzeling over fresh mozzarella.


                                            1. I never liked spaghetti squash until I made it baked with pesto mixed with tomato sauce in the middle, topped with parmesan. Actually pesto is great mixed half and half with tomato sauce, on top of anything.

                                              1. On roasted or grilled vegetables! Eggplant, zuchini, summer squash, petters, even corn on the cob!

                                                1. Last Sunday I had dinner at a neighbor's home and included in the fresh from the garden menu was green beans and basil pesto. Found it an unexpected but great combination.

                                                  1. So I ended up doing various things with my pesto abundance -- the most succesful being the simplest, as it turns out. Poached some chicken breasts and let cool, shredded the meat, mixed with a generous dollop of pesto and heaped on top of sliced tomatoes and mozz. Sort of a chicken caprese salad. Delicious.

                                                    Also did the portobello mushrooms with pesto. Great, but I broiled them as I was too lazy to light the grill. They would have been better cooked longer over flame.

                                                    Thanks for all the suggestions. Pesto omelets are a great way to start the day!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: yumyum

                                                      Late to the party, as usual, but last week I was fed an avocado pesto salad – big chunks of avocado, red onion, peeled cucumber, and ripe tomato tossed with pesto. Mmm.

                                                    2. I made a cream cheese torta with layers of pesto and chopped sundried tomatoes a few years ago- chevre would probably taste even better.