HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

Besides pesto with basil, what other herbs or whatnot have you used to make a similar type mix?

We love pesto, I try to always have some on hand as I like to add a spoonful to just about anything. Such a great flavor! But despite planting two packets of two different type basils this spring, nothing came up! What a disappointment. I think the blue jays ate all the seeds, it was Burpee so I don't think it was me. Meanwhile, back to buying fresh basil at the store. So sad.

But the rest of my herb garden is doing fine. I have three kinds of mint (banana, pineapple and chocolate) and am thinking of doing something with that. I have lemon balm, lemon verbena and lemon thyme (can you tell I love lemon flavor?) I've seen arrugala, cilantro and parsley "pesto" at the farmstands. Any tried and true ideas? It freezes so well, I'd love to stock up while summer is in full swing.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Mint pesto would be fabulous!

    I know it's not technically an herb, but I've used arugula to make pesto. It's bitter, but I love it. :)

    4 Replies
    1. re: eviemichael

      Mint pesto is great with fish. I cut it with a little Italian parsley, depending on the strength of my mint. I do the mint with walnuts - no real reason, I just do.

      The fennel frond idea sounds amazing and I'm going to have to try that. Fennel fronds are also a great addition to bread.

      1. re: rockycat

        Thanks, I grew the fennel for no special reason but welcome any ideas!

      2. re: eviemichael

        Arugula pistachio my new favorite pesto

        1. re: cookfood

          Arrugala. Pistachio. A match made in heaven.

      3. Made traditional pesto last night but added rosemary to stretch it. Really strong and pungent.

        1. I went to Sicily recently, so pesto was on my mind - they do one there that has tomatoes/almonds/basil, I think. Also pistachio and basil pesto. As far as other herbs go, I'm less clear - coriander pesto tastes too soapy to me; I make one with parsley/anchovies/olive oil/balsamic/lots of raw garlic/lemon zest and juice/breadcrumbs that's sort of halfway to a salsa verde.

          1. Maybe buy some basil and make some different basil mint pesto's for your freezer. Basil and mint are such classic flavors together and your flavored mints would be a great twist on pesto. I have made a mint/basil/walnut pesto before that was fabulous. Walnuts seem to taste great in different herb pesto combinations.

            I have been busy with my herbs as well. I make herbed vinegars (you have herbs that would be great for that) and herb infused oils. I also dry them and combine them in different herb mixes, they store well in glass jars.

            1. I've used fresh rosemary and fresh garlic to make a pesto for meats and pasta. It's wonderful. Thank God for my Cuisinart.

              2 Replies
              1. re: mrsbuffer

                I know, it comes out so good in the processor. I originally bought a mortar and pestle since they say it's the only way, but never got the hang of it.

                1. re: mrsbuffer

                  Wow this sounds great. Do you add anything else?

                2. We have been making fennel frond pesto. Tastes great and does not discolor as quickly as basil pesto.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: boaviagem

                    Oh I'm growing fennel too, more for the novelty of it than anything else (cardoon too). So just the fronds? That sounds amazing.

                  2. Thanks all, yes I mentioned cilantro but I don't really like it. I usually plant Vietnamese cilantro which is similar but a different family, however the herb farm didn't have it this year.

                    The arrugala pesto I've seen and I even planted some, what add ons do you use? and what applications? I wish I liked rosemary but it doesn't like me! Upsets my stomach for some reason.

                    I keep hearing about pistachio instead of pignolia, think I'll pick some up in the near future. Although I always have a lb or two of pignolia on hand, since I make so much pesto and hate to skimp. I'll definitely try mint pesto, and mint/basil pesto, and see how that goes over with hubby. He used to think he hated mint, until he tasted it fresh.

                    Adding anchovies sounds like a winner in any sauce. Think I might start sneaking some in. I've done vinegars but maybe I should have used a better quality one, it didn't thrill me. But oil infused I would love, I go through lemon oil like no one's business. Just add the herbs to oil, I'm guessing? Because I'd love to make some with all my lemon flavored offerings.

                    I do dry everything that's left in the fall and use all winter, it's the gift that keeps giving for sure!

                    I'm also growing valerian for no particular reason, maybe I should make some with that, for when I need to relax!

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: coll

                      For the oils, I think they work out best if you use a blender, then strain.

                      For vinegar, you might try a mild rice wine vinegar to really pick up the herb flavors. When I use red wine vinegar, I put shallots in it along with the herbs to compete with the strength of the vinegar. I stay away from white distilled vinegar for this use and sometimes even apple cider vinegar is a bit strong for. Herbs, IME. I make salads almost daily so I really like herbed rice wine and red wine vinegars for this use.

                      1. re: sedimental

                        I think I used a house brand cider vinegar. I'll have to go to the Asian store and see if they carry rice wine vinegar in bulk, then try again. Never even thought of red, remember when all there was, was red and white?

                        The lemon oil I buy has little pieces of zest floating in it, what else would you do though? I was thinking lemon verbena or balm would be nice floating in there too. This would make a nice Xmas gift, since I've been converting my family to using lemon oil in salads.

                        1. re: coll

                          The infused oils are supposed to be kept in the refrigerator. I guess because of the plant matter could gather bacteria. I store mine in the freezer (like pesto) in smaller batches.

                          I made Ina's recipe for garlic lemon oil and thought it was good, but I haven't made a regular lemon oil. Might be worth looking into because a good quality lemon oil can be expensive!

                          1. re: sedimental

                            Tell me about it! I often wonder how much it would cost if it came in a gallon size.

                      2. re: coll

                        I started using pistachios when the price of pine nuts went sky high...now pistachios, roasted and salted, are my go-to nuts for everything from snacking to pesto to meatballs.

                        When I lived on the East Coast I started making fresh parsley pesto and now I usually add some to any pesto I make. For me, it mellows out the other flavors--mint is my favorite of late--and when there is nothing else in the fridge it still makes a great pesto without any other herbs

                        1. re: escondido123

                          I do always add parsley, I figure it balances all the garlic if nothing else.

                          1. re: coll

                            I've started to cut back on the garlic, it just seems too overpowering sometimes--though garlic blanched in the pasta water can be great.

                            1. re: escondido123

                              Garlic can upset my stomach, so I only use a couple of cloves. Guess I made it sound like I go crazy, I'm ultra conservative when it comes to garlic.

                              I've always heard to use parsley with garlic, but I think it is more to counteract bad breath? It's just a habit with me now.

                        2. re: coll

                          I would strongly recommend against valerian pesto--valerian smells like wet socks to me! :)

                          I, too, love lemon oil. Ariston is local to Connecticut and it's fab. Do they sell it near you?
                          http://www.aristonoliveoil.com/catego...

                          1. re: kattyeyes

                            The only lemon oils I see are from Italy. I am going to Fairway to stock up today, as a matter of fact, so will take a look what they have.

                            I don't know why I got the valerian, I must have been stressed out that day! What do people do with it anyway. I didn't really look it up yet, I assume dry it and make tea?

                            1. re: coll

                              The Ariston oils are from Greece. The importers are from Connecticut. :)

                              Yes, I think people do make tea of it. I have an herb tea from a local shop called "Goodnight Tea: A special blend of peppermint, fennel, caraway and Valerian root to help you relax." I was also told not to make a habit of drinking it!

                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                Oh, am I supposed to use the roots? I thought the leaves. I'd better start researching!

                        3. We, too, love pesto. Mostly on pizza or in pasta. This year I put a small herb "garden" on a tabletop in the backyard. It has 9 sections, 2 parsley, 2 basil, rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage, and spearmint. I plan for a lot of different herb-combo pestos this summer. Since basil and oregano are of the mint family, they do go well together and parsley in any recipe seems to tone it down a bit. Also, the spearmint in a milder mint than most so it doesn't overpower. My normal mix is basil/oregano/parsley and it goes well on the grilled pizzas I just this year started doing.

                           
                          14 Replies
                          1. re: grampart

                            Never thought to put oregano but I have a very healthy plant this year, so will toss some into the next batch.

                            I just put a big spoonful into my bowl of macaroni salad for today, it's just in the background but I think I will add it to my recipe for the future.

                            1. re: coll

                              Oregano works well. Lots of recipes out there. This is one I'm going to try next.
                              http://www.hobbyfarms.com/food-and-ki...

                              1. re: grampart

                                That sounds interesting! Although the ad for Purina on top threw me for a minute ;-)

                            2. re: grampart

                              I'm so jealous--my basil isn't digging the weather this year. Yours looks like a basil BUSH fercryin'outloud!

                              Do you also grow the hot and spicy variety of oregano? We love it. Hadn't thought to add it to pesto, but will definitely give that a whirl.

                              Adding tomatoes to the mix for a Sicilian pesto is another tasty option. Just made some recently.

                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                I didn't realize that was Sicilian style. I do like to mix pesto with a little tomato sauce, even if jarred sauce my husband will always eat twice as much of whatever it's served over.

                                1. re: coll

                                  I didn't either until a couple of years ago and I'm surrounded by Sicilians! ;)

                                  ETA: Next time I'm going to try some lemon zest in the mix, too.

                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                    I'm married to a second generation Sicilian, maybe that's why he loves my mix. But I just made it up one day by myself. Now I can say, oh I make it Sicilian style of course!

                                    I put the lemon zest and the juice of a whole lemon in my pesto, love the flavor but also keeps it green.

                                    1. re: coll

                                      :) Understand completely! Zest AND lemon--great idea! Also, while we're kicking ideas around, I quartered mini bocconcini and threw them in with the pasta. Delish!

                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                        They'd have to be pureed and blanched white before I could get my husband to eat that.

                                        Then again, he'll eat broccoli with Velveeta and Ritz, so maybe the Miracle Of The Pesto might work it's magical powers.

                                        1. re: coll

                                          He doesn't like fresh mozz?! What kind of Sicilian is this? :)

                                          1. re: kattyeyes

                                            Oh he likes it fine, we just had tomato and mozz last night (still can't get myself to call it "caprese"). I think Velveeta is like a forbidden fruit.

                                            1. re: coll

                                              LOL, I like the forbidden fruit melted with a jar of salsa. Still!

                                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                                He loves all cheeses without prejudice.

                                2. re: kattyeyes

                                  This whole thread made me hungry! Thanks for lunch!

                                  And grampart, you inspired me to go play in the dirt a bit, move things around, and hope my basil does better in the days ahead. I planted some nasties, too!

                                   
                              2. Walnut, parsley and touch of lemon rind, with good olive oil. Lovely on pasta, also on baked potatoes.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Londonlinda

                                  I love putting rind in mine too, and also lots of lemon juice. The juice keeps it nice and green. I like pesto on spaghetti squash myself, even my husband will eat it!

                                2. Love Arugula Pesto! Yes it's peppery but so yummy. We use Pepitas instead of pine nuts in it.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: MissBubbles

                                    I see a trip to the Trader Joe nut aisle in my future!

                                    1. re: coll

                                      The wild arugula they have is perfect for this Pesto.

                                      1. re: MissBubbles

                                        I'm going next Saturday, if I don't have enough in the garden I will definitely pick some up there.

                                    2. re: MissBubbles

                                      MissBubbles, I love Arugula pesto too! At first it seemed bitter, then I couldn't stop eating it! It's a fave.

                                      1. re: MsDiPesto

                                        You two are talking me into arrugala pesto in the near future! Sounds intriguing.

                                    3. There are several pesto recipe ideas here but also many more ideas for herbs:

                                      http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifesty...

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: tcamp

                                        That's a great article, thanks for sharing!

                                      2. Consider using sorrel. It has a nice lemony bite that is quite different. This recipe:

                                        http://edibleallegheny.com/carrot-rib...

                                        uses it as a dressing but I've used over potatoes, pasta, and the like.

                                        Our single sorrel plant gives us more than enough to keep a steady supply in the house!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: sordftr

                                          I did grow sorrel one year, but didn't know what to do with it. Duh!

                                          1. re: sordftr

                                            I made a sorrel pesto the other night, tossed in a few other herbs, it was great.

                                          2. I do like pesto, but I've been making chimichurri more often recently for some reason. It is similar to make (but with parsley and/or cilantro instead of basil) and has lots of uses. We like it on most beef cuts. It's good on pork and chicken, too.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: travelerjjm

                                              I think I made that once, as part of a recipe. Great idea to serve with meats, thanks!

                                            2. I made a kale and hazelnut pesto the other day , as I had neither basil or pine nuts.
                                              Had to ramp up the parmesan a bit to counteract the bitterness
                                              of the kale but it was tasty.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Paprikaboy

                                                I do love kale, did you blanche it first?

                                                1. re: coll

                                                  I didn't blanch it first but think it would have been better if i had done.
                                                  I would provide a recipe but I didn't use one and it was my first time making any kind of pesto.I also had to use my coffee grinder to make it (which may explain why it began to smoke and stopped working yesterday). It turned out all right, all things considered.

                                              2. I was very happy to find a few lemon basil plants just starting to grow. No sign of the Genovese yet. Maybe I got the timetable wrong? But keep these ideas coming because I am becoming very inspired!

                                                Was just thinking, all these pestos (pesti?) would be a great addition to a cheese and cracker platter.

                                                  1. re: ursy_ten

                                                    Thanks, I think I'll try that after the arrugala version. Will probably sub grated cheese for the nutritional yeast though.

                                                    1. re: coll

                                                      Yes, I think grated cheese would make it even better than it already is.

                                                  2. Dandelion Pesto from Yankee magazine

                                                    Ingredients:
                                                    2 cups tightly packed dandelion leaves, well-rinsed and dried
                                                    1 dozen large basil leaves
                                                    2 garlic cloves
                                                    1 cup lightly toasted hazelnuts (skins removed), or toasted almonds, pine nuts, or walnuts
                                                    1/2 cup olive oil
                                                    1/2cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)
                                                    Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

                                                    Instructions:
                                                    In the bowl of a food processor or blender, pulse together dandelion leaves, basil, garlic, and nuts. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the motor running, add olive oil and process until a smooth paste forms. Pulse in cheese if you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: Infomaniac

                                                      Well if there's one thing I have plenty of, it's dandelions! But believe it or not, my local small grocery sells them too. I've been tempted to try to make dandelion wine, just to say I've done it; but I do know people who make salad with it....like my Mom! She'd get a kick out of dandelion pesto.

                                                      1. re: Infomaniac

                                                        I love that! What is next, grass clippings pesto?

                                                        1. re: tcamp

                                                          "I love that! What is next, grass clippings pesto?"

                                                          With the right kind of grass, who knows? Even one made with weed(s) might have them coming back for more.

                                                          1. re: grampart

                                                            HA HA HA! Or leave them with a bad case of the munchies!

                                                            1. re: kattyeyes

                                                              How about valerian and weed pesto? You never know.

                                                      2. I've seen a "Thai" pesto made with a mix of mint, cilantro, and basil with peanuts or cashews as the nut and vegetable oil with a little sesame oil as the oil.

                                                        I do garlic scape pesto. This year I ended up a waaaay to many scapes between a gift and purchasing some and my CSA. I made a huge batch of pesto and froze it in ice cubes. Scapes are more resilient than some herbs so they froze extreme well. A good way to store summer herbs.

                                                        Another pesto suggetion is tring sunflower seeds for the nut. This has worked really well for me and I just love the flavor.

                                                        13 Replies
                                                        1. re: luciaannek

                                                          Sunflower seeds and pepitas. Adding both to my TJ list, turns out I'm going next Saturday!

                                                          I keep seeing people mentioning garlic scapes. Also pea tendrils. Is this something that would be easy to harvest at home? Because I grew peas this year but wasn't sure about the tendrils? I know I can look it up, but if anyone knows......

                                                          1. re: coll

                                                            Garlic scapes are a by product of growing garlic so if you grow garlic there are scapes for the taking. A lot of people don't know that you can eat the scapes and compost them after using the garlic bulbs. There are a million things to do with them but pesto may be my favorite. As people become more familiar they are showing up more and more in farmer's markets because as far as the farmer is concerned people are paying for something they would otherwise throw out. Scapes all the way.

                                                            I just read you mention using lemon in your regular pesto, the thai pesto would be good with lime!

                                                            1. re: luciaannek

                                                              Our farmers market is opening for the season this week, I'll shop around, and chat them up a bit too if they're not too busy!

                                                              1. re: luciaannek

                                                                I just bought a pound of garlic scapes, half of which are destined for pesto (still deciding on the other half!). I can't wait to taste the results!

                                                            2. re: luciaannek

                                                              The "Thai" pesto would be especially nice with cinnamon basil.

                                                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                ..and Vietnamese cilantro rather than regular?

                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                  File under "learn something new every day"--I'm not sure I realized there was a Vietnamese cilantro! Then there is culantro, too!

                                                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                    I get it at some of the farms out here that specialize in herbs.

                                                                2. re: kattyeyes

                                                                  I make "Thai" pesto using Thai basil, adding mint and/or cilantro if I have it. I usually use peanuts or cashews as the nut component and no cheese at all. Fish sauce/anchovies, lime juice and a little hot chile round it all out.

                                                                3. re: luciaannek

                                                                  I have a Thai basil pesto in my fridge now. It is excellent! Goes really well with various Asian, lighter foods for the summer. Spring rolls, dosa, soba noodles, radish slices, etc.

                                                                  I just made a garlic scape pesto. This was the first time I have had it and I really like it. I am glad that it freezes well because I used a bunch!

                                                                  1. re: sedimental

                                                                    Oh I hope they have garlic scapes at the farmers market tomorrow! So mad I didn't get my Vietnamese cilantro this year either, I am starting a list for next spring already. Thai basil will also be on it, never grew before.

                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                      I've never had much luck growing Thai basil even though my Genovese basil plants do very well every year. Don't know why.

                                                                      1. re: rockycat

                                                                        I have really good luck with Vietnamese cilantro, but it's not really cilantro, I think it's in the basil family. So maybe Thai basil is really in another family too (like cilantro!)

                                                                4. I routinely make pesto out of leftover arugula--leaves, nuts (pistachios, almonds, or pine nuts), garlic (usually), olive oil, sometimes a little lemon or orange zest, olive oil, salt, pepper--and freeze it. If I want to add cheese, I add it after thawing the pesto. I love to spread this as a base on pizza crust or bruschetta or add it to pasta, and I've come to favor arugula pesto over basil pesto.

                                                                  I also love mint pesto. I usually don't add nuts to it, but I have made it with pine nuts.

                                                                  I love the idea of adding anchovies that I've gotten from this thread, and I'm going to try some in my next batch of pesto.

                                                                  1. Side question: For those who also enjoy snails, ever tried any different "pesto" w/ them? Any success?

                                                                    1. Dill, sometimes with Parmesan, sometimes with goat cheese.

                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                      1. re: sr44

                                                                        Thanks for making me think outside the box.

                                                                        1. re: coll

                                                                          And thanks for making me think trashy. Your mention of forbidden fruit above prompted me to make Velveeta dip and call it dinner last night. :)

                                                                          1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                            We've been having cheese and crackers, and dips like hummus or guacamole, and calling it dinner too, lately. It's supposed to be "happy hour" snacks, before our proper meal, but we discovered we'd rather totally pig out on that stuff instead!

                                                                        2. re: sr44

                                                                          Dill pesto sounds intriguing. Do you use any nuts in the blend?

                                                                          For my own part I've just frozen my batch of stinging nettle pesto for the summer. Great use of a foraged weed.

                                                                          1. re: JungMann

                                                                            Usually walnuts or pepitas. I got some shelled pistachios from Trader Joe's but ate them before I could try them in a pesto.

                                                                            1. re: sr44

                                                                              I have the same problem with nuts.

                                                                        3. Cilantro, scallions, ginger (lots of it) and macadamia nuts. Really good on grilled fish and chicken. Wouldn't have used mac nuts (pricey) but my parents used to have a tree and would roast the nuts and give some to me. Works out well since I have friends allergic to pinenuts.

                                                                          1. I don't usually make pesto as I'm allergic to nuts, but I'm in love with charmoula sauce--I feel like it's somewhat similar.

                                                                            http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.co...

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: jmarya

                                                                              Can you eat seeds? Sometimes I substitute sunflower seeds, and it works well. I've heard of people using pepitas as well.

                                                                              1. re: jmarya

                                                                                I don't like nuts in pesto, so I don't use them. My current favorite is basil, parsley, olive oil, garlic, parmesan, and hickory smoked salt which has a little more intense salt flavor.

                                                                                1. re: The Librarian

                                                                                  I've been getting into smoked salt myself, never though to put in pesto. But that's a great idea!

                                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                                    I've actually been using it on pretty much everything in place of regular salt. I think it adds a great depth of flavor. We were just on a trip in Los angeles and Santa Barbara and came across Himalayan Pink Salt sprinkled on butter to spread on bread - incredible. I'm going to buy some. My favorite spice place is Whole Spice in Napa: www.wholespice.com. I buy the hickory-smoked salt from them, and I love their bbq rubs as well.

                                                                              2. I've done parsley instead of basil for pesto.

                                                                                1. I love jalapeno pesto. cilantro, parsley, jalapenos pine nuts,e tc.

                                                                                  1. Although a second planting is up to about 4 inches, basil has also been dicey here this year. However, I have Greek oregano up the yinyang, which winters over and is blooming in the multiple containers to which it has migrated. I tried a new pesto mixture that I layered into a 'lazy lasagna' that turned out really good. I used about two-thirds oregano buds and leaves to one-third Trader Joe's basil (by the way, I stick their plants in the yard and they hang around well). I added lemon thyme, a little rosemary, olive oil, five cloves garlic, parmesan, and the two ringers: blanched, de-skinned and toasted almonds, and ricotta, all whizzed together in the food processor. Different thread, but this would also be good rolled up in pounded boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: skamama

                                                                                      I've tried replanting basil with roots, but never with any success. Guess I should keep trying, rather than throwing in the compost bin.

                                                                                      Ricotta is the only way to make pesto creamy, IMHO.

                                                                                    2. Arugula is definitely my favorite in the pesto family--I actually think I like it better than traditional basil pesto.

                                                                                      Another excellent one I've done several times this summer is purslane pesto. Delicious, bright, a bit citrusy, and best of all, the stuff grows everywhere--if you have a garden chances are some of it has come up on its own.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: mdzehnder

                                                                                        I so want to get into foraging at some point in the near future.

                                                                                      2. Tried mustard greens w/ parley tonight. Quite good. Mustard greens gave it a bite.