Pesto doesn’t have to be made with just summer basil. Eat your healthy greens all year! Try different varieties made with kale, Swiss chard, spinach, arugula, or red bell pepper! Stock your freezer with jars to make simple weeknight dinners like easy pastas, sandwiches, and pizzas!
Stocking the Freezer
Let’s start by saying this is an old post, I am currently not pregnant!
I’m less than 3 weeks away from our little girl’s due date. I’m trying to stock the house with diapers and the freezer with easy, healthy meals. I made up three varieties of pesto that we can just toss with pasta and cream for a quick dinner or make flatbread pizza’s for an easy lunch. Basil is the staple, but pesto is a great way to eat more of any greens. Using different combinations of greens (or bell pepper) and nuts can give you lots of variety! Today we made:
- Swiss Chard Pesto with Almonds
- Spinach Arugula Pesto with Walnuts
- Roasted Red Pepper Pesto with Tomato and Garlic
It’s the middle of winter in Minnesota, so Classic Basil Pesto was not one of my choices. With basil not being in season, it just doesn’t make sense to make a bulk batch. I’ll save that for summer when gardens are full of basil. This is what I would call the winter varieties. It’s a great way to eat the healthy greens you might not always reach for and the nuts add good protein.
Ways to Use Freezer Pesto
In not much time, these 3 recipes gave me 10 little jars, enough for 10 meal ideas for our little family of almost 4, without taking up much room in my freezer. Even if you’re not preparing to survive on no sleep, having a few of these jars is great on a busy weeknight! Try using freezer pesto in:
- Garden BLT’s with Pesto Aioli
- Creamy Pesto Fettuccine
- A spread for Turkey or Chicken Panini’s or Ciabatta sandwiches with melty cheese
- A sauce for Homemade Pizza or Easy Flatbread Pizzas for lunch
- A sauce for Grilled chicken or Fish
The recipes are all basically the same, just the main ingredients varied, which means you can make up your own varieties quite easily. Try different herbs and greens, like basil, spinach, kale, Swiss chard or arugula. Try making a red pepper variety by roasting a bell pepper with garlic. Use different nuts, or different hard cheeses, the variations are endless!
- ⅓ c almonds
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 bunch Swiss chard washed and stems removed **see notes for variations
- 1 t kosher salt
- 10 grinds fresh black pepper
- 1 lemon juice and zest
- ⅓ c Parmesan cheese grated
- ⅓ c olive oil
- ⅓ c water
- In a food processor, add the nuts and garlic and pulse until roughly chopped.
- Add all other ingredients except olive oil and water and process.
- With food processor running, drizzle in the oil and water through the feed tube until well blended.
- Store in small jars and freeze or keep in the fridge for a couple days.
- **ARUGULA SPINACH VARIETY, sub pine nuts or walnuts for almonds and a 5oz bag spinach arugula mix for the chard, (or basil in the summer mixed with any combination of other greens, like kale, spinach or Swiss chard. Adds nutrition and "stretches" your basil--as many greens as will fit in your food processor is fine, amounts don't need to be exact).
- **ROASTED PEPPER VARIETY, on a baking tray, roast 1 red bell pepper, 2 small tomatoes (optional), and 3 cloves of garlic (don't peel), toss all with olive oil and a little salt and pepper at 425° for 25 minutes. When slightly cooled, peel the garlic and bell pepper, remove stem and seeds. Add walnuts, roasted veggies, salt, pepper, lemon juice, Parmesan, and process. Drizzle in ¼ c olive oil, (no water) until well blended.