Pesto is one of my favorite sauces to make from scratch because it can accompany so many different dishes and stand all on its own. While the classic pesto alla genovese is made with crushed garlic, pine nuts, salt, basil leaves and parmesan cheese, you can use a number of herbs, nuts and cheeses to make your own version of your perfect pesto. Here are 3 recipes incorporating pesto that are perfect for a late summer bite.

Grilled Polenta Bites with Pistachio Pesto + Grilled Tomatoes

Grilled Polenta Bites with Pistachio Pestovegan, gluten-free 


3 cups basil leaves

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup pistachios

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup olive oil

Himalayan sea salt, to taste

18-oz pre-cooked polenta log

1-2 tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick

Grilled Parmesan cheese (optional)


In a food processor, combine the basil, garlic, pistachios, lemon juice and olive oil. Process until smooth. Add salt to taste. Set aside. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Slice polenta 1/4 inch thick rounds and place directly on grill. Grill on each side for 3-5 minutes or until polenta begins to brown and grill marks form. While polenta is cooking, place tomatoes on foil and place on grill. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until tomatoes begin to soften and warm. Remove both polenta and tomatoes from grill. Carefully palace tomatoes on top of polenta bites, top with pistachio pesto and sprinkle with parmesan cheese (optional).

Hemp Pesto Pasta with Tomatoes Zucchini + Fava Beans

Hemp Seed Pesto Pastavegan, gluten-free


8-oz gluten-free pasta

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic

minced 1 cup zucchini

chopped in quarters

1 cup cooked fava beans (outer skin removed)

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

Hemp Seed Pesto

3 cups basil

1/2 cup walnuts

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup hemp seeds

Himalayan sea salt, to taste


Cook pasta according to packaging instructions. Meanwhile, in a food processor, add all of the ingredients for the pesto and blend until smooth. In a large sauté pan, warm the olive oil over low heat. Add the garlic and stir until slightly brown and fragrant. Add zucchini and stir for 3-5 minutes. Add beans and tomatoes and continue to cook until tomatoes are slightly soft. Strain pasta and put in a large bowl. Toss in veggies and pesto and serve warm or cold.

Grilled Veggie Sandwich with Artichoke Pistachio Pesto

Grilled Veggie Sandwich with Pistachio Pesto vegetarian, gluten-free


gluten-free bread

1 red bell pepper cut into quarters lengthwise

2 portobello mushrooms

1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise

1 tbsp olive oil

8-oz fresh mozzarella ball

Artichoke Pistachio Pesto

1/4 unsalted pistachios

2 cloves garlic

1 cup basil

1 cup artichoke hearts (canned, rinsed and drained)

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/4 cup olive oil

Himalayan sea salt, to taste


Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, place peppers, mushrooms and zucchini. Drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile, combine pesto ingredients in a food processor and pulse until almost smooth, leaving some chunks for texture. Add sea salt to taste. Set aside. When vegetables are done, allow to cool. Assemble sandwich by spreading pesto on each slice of bread, then stack a slice of fresh mozzarella, zucchini, red pepper, then mushroom. Top with the other piece of bread. In an olive oil-lined, over medium heat, cook sandwich on each side for minutes, then serve.