How To Use Up Leftover Pesto

Pesto being made the traditional way in a pestle and mortar

Whether from a financial or food waste perspective, many people ask us what they can do with leftover pesto. The good news is there are so many uses for pesto other than pasta – so here we’ve compiled our top 15 ways to ensure those half-eaten jars never go to waste.

Freeze it
Pesto freezes remarkably well, so dedicate an ice-cube tray to storing frozen nuggets of pesto to ensure you'll always have some on hand to enliven your dinner.

Stir it through… literally anything
Once you start thinking of pesto as an ingredient rather than just a sauce, you’ll find the options limitless. A dollop of pesto can elevate mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, rice and numerous other side dishes to a completely new level.

Make pesto sandwiches
Pesto can be used in almost any sandwich, so when you find yourself automatically reaching for the mayonnaise, think whether pesto could be a good substitute. Pesto BLTs for instance, are officially awesome.

Make pesto butter
We know the term “compound butter” sounds frightfully cheffy, but it requires nothing more than mixing equal quantities of pesto with room-temperature butter and then refrigerating or freezing. Our favourite use for it is to baste a steak or fish fillet during the very final stages of pan frying.

Add to soups
A tablespoon or two of pesto can be mixed into your favourite soup to add an extra dimension.

Make a pesto dip
If we’re feeling really lazy, mixing pesto with sour cream, hummus or cream cheese makes for a mighty fine dip that can be from the fridge to the table in 2 minutes flat.

Make pesto stuffing
We’re huge fans of stuffed chicken breast, so next time you find yourself stuffing your meat with breadcrumbs, spinach, cheese or herbs, ask yourself whether pesto would make a nice addition. The answer is almost always “yes!".

Use as a marinade
One of our favourite ways to use up leftover pesto is to marinate prawns or thin strips of stir-fry beef with it. It can easily upgrade a dish from the mundane to the divine.

Add to béchamel and other sauces
Béchamel is the cornerstone of so many dishes – lasagne, moussaka and fish pie to name a few – so whenever you find yourself adding milk to your butter-flour roux, think whether there might be a place in there for pesto too.

Use in baking
We’ve successfully added pesto to focaccia, pinwheels, cheese straws, bruschetta and many more bread and pastry dishes.

Make a pesto dressing
For years, whenever we made a salad we’d whip up a quick vinaigrette of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, occasionally adding a little wholegrain mustard and honey if we were feeling really fancy pants. Ever since adding pesto to the equation though, we’ve never looked back.

Use as a pizza base
Nothing beats a rich, homemade tomato sauce as the base for a pizza, but if you fancy a change, pesto makes for a rather fine alternative.

Add to breadcrumbs
We’re rather partial to sprinkling generous amounts of breadcrumbs onto fish fillets before finishing under the grill. Mix those breadcrumbs with a little pesto though... and wow!

Spice up your breakfast
Pesto isn’t something that most people associate with breakfast, but try drizzling some pesto over your fried eggs, buttery English muffins or American-style pancakes. You’ll immediately kick yourself for not thinking to do it before. 

Add to roast vegetables
We love tossing carrots, parsnips and onion in oil and honey before roasting. Stirring through some pesto in the final minutes of cooking however, elevates the veggies to a whole new next level.

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