7 Delicious Summer Lunches with Pesto (+ vegan & nut-free options)

Need some delicious lunch ideas? Now that it’s summer, so many fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables are available at your local market. I was inspired on a recent market trip and I had to share my 7 favorite lunch ideas with pesto.

You can whip fresh pesto up in about 5 minutes or less. It’s so easy to make, it tastes so fresh and it gets better every day!  Once it’s made you can add it to some of your favorite recipes all week for lunch!

I honestly love all the possibilities! The sky's the limit! For my lunch, I chose a pasta salad with chickpeas, chopped garden-fresh tomatoes, and sliced red onion. You also can combine the pesto pasta salad with grilled chicken/ salmon and a small salad. It's so versatile.

I’ve also shared a way to make it into a spread! Check out the ideas below.

First, collect all your ingredient for the pesto. There are only 2 steps! It’s that easy!

 Ingredients for 5-minute Fresh Pesto:

  • 1/4 cup pine nut of walnuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese loosely grated or cut into chunks
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

How to make 5-minute Fresh Pesto:

  1. Combine nut, cheese lemon juice, zest, garlic, and half the olive oil in a food processor and blend until almost smooth.
  2. Add basil and remaining olive oil and blend on high until basil is all chopped small and your pesto is complete! Taste and season to your liking.

Store any leftover pesto in the fridge in an airtight mason or glass jar.

Pesto Recipe Variations:

  1. Nut-free Pesto: Keep it nut-free by using pepitas or hemp seeds instead of pine nuts or walnuts.
  2. Vegan Pesto: Omit the Parmesan cheese and use nutritional yeast for a vegan version.
  3. Pesto Spread: Mix the pesto into mayonnaise or sour cream for a delicious sandwich spread or dip.

7 Lunch Ideas to go with your Pesto

If you’re wondering what goes well with Pesto. Look no further.

Pesto is so versatile and it can be combined in so many ways. Use it as a spread, garnish or mixed in with your salad. Check out the ideas below and share this recipe with your friends!

Grilled Chicken Pesto

  • Grill your chicken on the barbeque with some butter , herb, and lemon. Once ready top it with pesto and add a side of garden vegetables (raw or cooked). Top them with the pesto as well!

Seared Salmon Pesto and Rice

Skip the oven and sear your salmon in a cast-iron skillet. It cooks up quickly and tastes so fresh! Cook up some rice and drizzle the salmon and rice with homemade pesto when you’re ready to eat.

Roasted New Potatoes with Pesto

You can choose whatever you have, new potatoes, russets or Yukon gold. If potatoes are larger you can dice them into cubes. Roast them as your normally would. Let them cool before adding the pesto. Garnish with additional parmesan cheese and serve.

Pesto Bruschetta

Level up your bruschetta with this homemade pesto. Toast the bread with butter and garlic ahead of time. While the bread is toasting in the oven, dice your fresh tomatoes and add seasoning as desired for your bruschetta mix. Take the bread out. Let it cool slightly and spread your pesto on. Then add your bruschetta mix and serve.

Pesto Gazpacho Garnish

Gazpacho goes so well with pesto because it’s a cold soup. And cold soup is so delicious for the summertime. Pesto makes the perfect garnish, just add it when ready to serve. If you’re looking for a delicious Gaspacho recipe check this one out from reciarocuisine.com 

Pesto Scrambled Eggs

This might not sound delicious but it is! Make your scrambled eggs as you normally would. Once cooked remove from the heat and mix in your pesto. Easy, simple, and delicious. It’s also a great lunch idea when you’re short on time.

Pesto Pasta Salad

Another summer favorite. This is easy to make. You can precook the pasta ahead of time. Mix in some fresh market vegetables and add your pesto! Voila! A meal that’s perfect for lunch ro even dinner!

See below for some commonly asked questions:

Do you put pesto on hot or cold?

You should never heat pesto. Pesto is dependent on it’s raw flavor,  so heating it just won’t work. Homemade pesto or any pesto for that matter should be added to colder dishes.

How long can I keep homemade pesto in the fridge?

Pesto should be refrigerated in an airtight container for about a week. You can freeze your pesto for no longer than 6 months.

What’s the best pasta to use with Pesto?

Pasta that work well with pesto are Fusilli, Bucatini, Capellini, Spaghettini, or Fettuccine.

What else can you do with Pesto?

Replace your pizza sauce, add it to guacamole, use it as your go-to sandwich spread to replace mayonnaise, and more. Let me know how you’re using your pesto in the comments below.

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