Who doesn’t love pesto? That gorgeous taste created through the fusion of crushed garlic, pine nuts, salt, basil, Parmesan cheese, pecorino sardo, and olive oil. It’s a delectable ingredient that we just love! When it comes to pesto recipes we find they can become a little bit “samey”, so we’ve put together our best pesto top 10, to give inspiration to those looking for a fun and delicious alternative.

Bashed Chicken with Walnut and Watercress Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 240g skinless chicken breast fillet
  • small knob of butter
  • 25g walnuts
  • ½ garlic clove, peeled
  • large handful of watercress, about 50g, plus extra to serve
  • large handful of basil leaves, about ½ x 28g pack
  • 20g grated Parmesan
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • a few sunsoaked tomatoes, to serve (optional)

Method:

  • Lay a large piece of clingfilm over a chopping board, place the chicken breast on top, then lay a second piece of clingfilm over the chicken. Using a meat mallet, saucepan, rolling pin or any other blunt instrument, bash the chicken until it is about 1.5cm thick all over.
  • Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium to high heat and, when bubbling, put the chicken in and fry for about 4 minutes on each side, or until you are sure it is cooked through – check by cutting into the thickest part to make sure the meat is white all the way through, with no raw pink bits left.
  • Meanwhile, place the remaining ingredients, apart from the extra watercress and the sundried tomatoes, in a food processor along with a splash of warm water and seasoning. Blitz until you have a smooth pesto.
  • When the chicken is ready, remove it from the pan, shaking off the excess butter, slice it and lay on a plate. Season with a little salt and pepper, pile the extra watercress on top, scatter over a few sunsoaked tomatoes, if using, and then drizzle over the walnut pesto.

chicken with walnut

Grilled Steak Salad with Pesto and Crostini

Ingredients:

  • 2 x 200 g 21-day matured quality rib-eye steaks
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary , leaves picked and chopped
  • ½ tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 slices ciabatta bread , about 2cm thick
  • 2 tablespoons green pesto
  • 1 clove garlic , cut in half
  • 100 g mixed salad leaves
  • 1 lemon , juice of

Method:

  • This herby steak is for all the carnivores out there – choose good-quality meat and you can’t lose.
  • Lay the steaks on a chopping board and rub with a little olive oil. Season and sprinkle with the rosemary and oregano. Cover with greaseproof paper and bash lightly with a rolling pin or the bottom of a saucepan until the steaks are slightly flattened out and the herbs and seasoning are nicely pressed into the meat.
  • Put a large griddle pan on a high heat and, as it’s heating up, toast the ciabatta on both sides. Keep the toast warm. Shake any crumbs out of the griddle pan, then return to the heat and lay the steaks in it, side by side. Cook for about 8 minutes, turning every minute, for a medium steak, or a little longer if you like your meat more cooked. Lift the steaks out of the pan and leave to rest somewhere warm.
  • Spoon a tablespoon of pesto on to each of two warm plates and smear out across the plate with the back of the spoon. Place a steak on each plate and pour any resting juices over the top.
  • Rub the toasted ciabatta with the garlic, drizzle with a little olive oil and put a piece on top of each steak.
  • In a mixing bowl, toss the salad leaves with the lemon juice, a lug of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Divide the salad between the plates and serve.

Steak

Pan-fried Gnocchi with Watercress-mint Pesto

Ingredients:

  • a large handful of mint leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 75ml olive oil, plus extra for frying
  • 4 tbsp pine nuts, toasted 1 x 110g bag baby leaf watercress
  • 50g vegetarian hard sheep’s or goats’ cheese (we used Parlick Fell hard sheep’s cheese), finely grated
  • 1 x 500g pack fresh gnocchi
  • 100g fine green beans, halved
  • 100g cherry tomatoes, halved

Method:

  • First make the pesto by putting the mint, garlic, olive oil, 2 tablespoons of the pine nuts and two-thirds of the watercress in a food processor; blitz to combine. Stir in the cheese and season.
  • Heat a large frying pan with a splash of olive oil, add the gnocchi and toss gently over a medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes until lightly golden. Meanwhile, cook the beans in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes until just tender; drain.
  • Add the pesto to the gnocchi and toss together. Gently stir in the beans and tomatoes. Take the pan off the heat and add the remaining watercress. Divide between 2 plates and scatter over the rest of the pine nuts to serve.

gnocchi

Chicken, Spinach and Pesto Puff Pastry Tart 

Ingredients:

  • 1 puff pastry sheet
  • 200 to 250g fresh, skinless chicken, cut into think strips
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons pesto
  • 4 to 6 cherry tomatoes halved
  • 50g spinach leaves
  • Beaten egg or milk to glaze

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 190c/Gas 5
  • Unroll pastry sheet onto baking tray. Combine the chicken with the pesto and spread over sheet, leaving a 2.5cm border all round edges.
  • Top with halved tomatoes and fresh spinach leaves; use 2 to 3 at a time, scrunched into the gaps between chicken pieces. Brush the boarder with beaten egg.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes until the pastry is risen and deep gold. Serve with salad and more spinach if desired.

Chicken Pesto Tart

  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ bunch fresh basil
  • 20g ground almonds
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 20g Italian hard cheese
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • olive oil
  • 1 400g tin cannellini beans
  • 120g cherry tomatoes , ripe
  • 200g dried tagliatelle
  • 120g green beans
  • 100g baby spinach

Method:

  • To make the pesto, peel and finely chop the garlic, then pick and very finely chop the basil leaves, reserving a few baby leaves for garnish.
  • Place the chopped basil into a bowl with the ground almonds, just under half the garlic and 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Finely grate in half the cheese, add a squeeze of lemon juice and season to taste with sea salt and black pepper, if needed. Mix until well combined and set aside (if you have a pestle and mortar, you can use this to muddle the pesto ingredients together).
  • Bring a pan of salted water to boil over a medium heat, then pick and finely chop the rosemary leaves.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the remaining garlic and all of the rosemary, then cook for 2 minutes, or until the garlic is lightly golden.
  • Turn the heat down to low, then drain and add half the cannellini beans (keep the rest for another day). Halve and add the tomatoes and cook for 8 minutes, or until the tomatoes have broken down and released their juices, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, cook the tagliatelle in the pan of boiling salted water for 6 minutes, or until al dente, which means that it should be soft enough to eat, but still have a bit of bite and firmness to it.
  • Meanwhile, trim the beans, then cook with the pasta for the final 4 minutes, adding the spinach for the last 30 seconds.
    Scoop out a mug of cooking water, then drain the pasta and veg in a colander and return to the pan.
  • Stir in the pesto, adding a little cooking water to loosen, if needed. Season to taste.
  • Divide between your bowls, spooning over the tomatoes and beans, scatter with the reserved basil leaves and add a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to each. Finely grate the remaining cheese over the top and tuck in!

Pasta

Pesto Baked Cod

Ingredients:

  • 1 aubergine, cut into 1cm (1/2in) cubes
  • 1 red onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 orange pepper, cut into 2cm (3/4) chunks
  • 1 courgette, slices into 1cm (1/2in) rounds
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lemons
  • 4 x 175g (6oz) cod fillets or firm white fish, skinless and boneless
  • 4 tbsp pesto
  • 250 g (9oz) cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 large bunch basil, leaves picked

Method:

  • Heat oven to 200°C (180°C fan) mark 6. Scatter the aubergine in a large roasting tin and roast for 5min.
  • Add the red onion, pepper, courgette, olive oil and juice of ½ a lemon to the roasting tin. Season and shake well to coat, then roast for a further 15min.
  • Meanwhile, slice the remaining lemon thinly, brush the tops of each of the cod fillets with pesto and arrange the lemon slices on top.
  • Carefully remove the roasting tray from the oven, add the tomatoes and put the fish on top. Turn the oven down to 170°C (150°C fan) gas 3 and bake for a final 10-15min until the fish is opaque and cooked through. Scatter with basil leaves to serve.

Cod

Hemsley and Hemsley’s Pesto Marinated Butterbean Salad 

Ingredients:

  • Butterbeans
  • Sundried tomato & garlic pesto
  • Salad leaves
  • Baby plum tomatoes
  • Toasted seeds

Method:

  • Marinade the butterbeans in the sundried tomato & garlic pesto for 1-2 hours.
  • serve on top of a bed of salad along with chopped baby plum tomatoes and toasted seeds.

Butterbean Salad

Pea Pesto Risotto with Honey Roast Salmon

Ingredients:

  • 150g frozen peas
  • 1 x 100g bag watercress, spinach and rocket
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan or pecorino
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 6 spring onions, chopped
  • 150g risotto rice
  • juice and zest of ½ lemon, plus lemon wedges to serve
  • 500ml hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • ½ x 135g pack honey roast salmon flakes

Method:

  • Cook the peas in boiling water for 2 minutes; drain. Transfer half the peas to a food processor, along with half the watercress, spinach and rocket leaves, the grated Parmesan or pecorino, 2 tablespoons of water and seasoning. Blitz to a chunky purée and set aside (alternatively, mash the peas and chop the leaves before mixing with the cheese, water and seasoning).
  • Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan, add the garlic and chopped spring onions, and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until softened but not coloured. Stir in the risotto rice and lemon zest.
  • Add a ladleful of hot stock to the pan. Continue to cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until all the stock has been absorbed. Add the rest of the stock a ladleful at a time, allowing each to be absorbed before adding the next. This should take 15-20 minutes.
  • Once all the stock has been absorbed into the risotto, stir in the lemon juice, the chunky pea purée and the reserved peas. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top the risotto with the honey roast salmon flakes and add a handful of the remaining watercress, spinach and rocket leaves. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

risotto

Simple Baked Pesto Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1⁄2cup refrigerated basil pesto
  • 2 -3 plum tomatoes, sliced (optional)
  • 1⁄2cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Line baking sheet with heavy-duty foil.
  • Place chicken and pesto in medium bowl; toss to coat.
  • Place chicken on prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center.
  • Remove from oven; top with tomatoes and cheese.
  • Bake for an additional 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Chicken Pesto Tart

  • 600 g new potatoes
  • 200 g fine green beans
  • 200 g tenderstem broccoli
  • 4 x 120 g salmon fillets, scaled and pin-boned, from sustainable sources
  • olive oil
  • 1 lemon

Pesto:

  • 25 g pine nuts
  • ½ a small clove of garlic
  • 50 g fresh basil
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 15 g Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lemon

Method:

  • To make the pesto, place a small frying pan over a medium heat, tip in the pine nuts and toast until very lightly golden – keep them moving so they don’t burn, then place in a small bowl and put to one side.
  • Peel the garlic, then place in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of sea salt.
  • Pick and tear in the basil leaves.
  • Bash the mixture to a paste, then add the pine nuts and pound again, leaving a little bit of texture. Scrape the mixture into the small bowl.
  • Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil – you need just enough to bind the pesto and give it an oozy consistency – then finely grate and stir through the Parmesan.
  • Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Have a taste and season with a pinch of black pepper and a squeeze more lemon juice, if you think it needs it.
  • Scrub the potatoes well, then trim the beans and broccoli.
  • Fill a large pan three quarters of the way up with boiling water, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil.
  • Once boiling, carefully add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes, adding the beans and the broccoli for the final 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat.
  • Rub the salmon fillets all over with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Place in the hot pan, skin-side down, turn the heat down to medium and cook for 4 minutes, or until golden underneath.
  • Use a fish slice to turn them over, then cook the fillets for a further 2 to 3 minutes, or until just cooked through.
  • Remove the pan from the heat, rest for 30 seconds, then add a good squeeze of lemon juice and give the pan a good shake.
  • Drain the vegetables well, then tip into to a large bowl. Add the pesto, then use tongs to coat everything nicely.
  • Divide the fish fillets and vegetables between your plates, drizzle over the juices from the pan, then serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

Salmon