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Healthy Eats: Perfecto Pesto

By Trish Coffman

You might not think of pesto as a healthy or versatile food, but it’s much more than a soggy sauce for pasta.

The right recipe can boost nutrition and add high-volume flavor to all sorts of dishes with its mix of fresh herbs, olive oil, nuts and just a smidge of cheese. Plus, it’s much better — and far more pure — when you make it at home.

Customize a batch, then use it all kinds of ways (store leftovers in the freezer):

  • Smear it on grilled chicken, fish or vegetables
  • Toss with roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes
  • Spread it on a sandwich
  • Use as a marinade for pork or shrimp
  • Stir into soup
  • Scramble with eggs
  • Top a pizza
  • Mix with plain yogurt for a creamy salad dressing or dip

You will need:

  • 1/3 C nuts (best choices: walnuts, pine nuts, pepitas)
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 2 C packed fresh leafy herbs (best choices: Italian parsley, basil, cilantro, mint; mix and match herbs if you like)
  • 1/4 C hard, aged cheese, shredded (best choices: Parmigiano-Reggiano, Asiago, or Pecorino Romano)
  • 1/3 C high quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Food processor or blender


Mince garlic, then use a fork to mash it to a paste with 1/2 tsp kosher salt. Transfer garlic paste to your food processor or blender, add the herbs and 1/4 tsp black pepper, then pulse until herbs are chopped. Add cheese and nuts and process until nuts are finely chopped. With the motor running, add oil in a slow stream through the feed tube until emulsified.

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