I’m always looking for quick dinners, bonus points if I can use fresh ingredients in the process. The dinner recipes below are quick, easy, and use a hefty portion of pesto—as well as other fresh ingredients, such as spinach and cherry tomatoes.
Traditional pesto is made with basil, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. These days, you can find pesto made with a variety of greens and nuts, such as kale and walnuts.
Though you can make it on your own, canned versions and refrigerated versions are so much more convenient. Both are found in the pasta sauce section. Refrigerated pesto will have the freshest herb flavor but also a much shorter shelf life. It’s never a bad idea to have a jar in the pantry for those nights when you need a quick dinner.
Pesto Chicken Meatballs
I get cheers when I make meatballs for dinner. This genius recipe saves me from chopping herbs and uses pesto instead. These have me cheering too, because they only require four ingredients and bake in only 15 minutes.
Grilled Chicken Caprese Sandwich
Give your grilled chicken sandwich a zing by adding basil two ways. Fresh basil tops the sandwich alongside tomato and mozzarella, with pesto spread on the bun. Ciabatta buns hold it all together without getting soggy.
Spring Vegetable Tortellini Soup with Pesto
Keeping a hearty vegetarian soup in your back pocket is a marvelous idea. The pesto adds an extra layer of flavor that elevates this meal to company-worthy. If asparagus isn’t in season, you can swap it out for broccoli.
5-Ingredient Pesto Shrimp
Dinner doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious. All you have to do is toss pesto into a skillet with shrimp and cherry tomatoes for the simplest, yet incredibly flavorful, weeknight dinner.
Three-Cheese Pesto Lasagna
While not the quickest meal to make, this vegetarian lasagna earns points by its ability to be made ahead, doubled, and frozen. Plus, it’s delicious! Tomato haters will appreciate being able to dig into this meal wholeheartedly.
Whole Wheat Pasta with Kale Pesto
You made the kale pesto (or bought it at Trader Joe’s). Now what? Toss it with pasta, lemon and mozzarella for a quick and easy weeknight dinner. Whole wheat has a nutty flavor that kale pesto adds a pleasant zip to but any pasta will work here.
Chicken Minestrone With Basil Pesto
Here’s your reminder to pull out your stash of pesto that you froze and use it in this pot of soup. The recipe makes 10 servings of soup and keeps well in the refrigerator, saving you from tired lunches for the rest of the week.
Pesto Pasta Salad
Hold on to the flavors of summer with a garden-fresh pasta salad. The spiral pasta is enrobed with basil pesto and then olives, cherry tomatoes, and green peas are added, resulting in a satisfying lunch or welcome side at the next backyard bbq.
Pesto White Bean Veggie Burgers
I’d eat pesto spread on any burger, but this recipe does more than that. The pesto is mixed into the white bean patty and adds moisture and flavor. Make sure to save some pesto for spreading on the buns for serving.
Pesto Havarti Mac and Cheese
The best mac and cheese uses quick-melting cheeses. Havarti is a semi-hard cheese that melts like a charm but you can substitute gouda if you can’t find it. Pesto is stirred into the cheese sauce, turning it a light green.
Summery Pesto Shakshuka
Shakshuka is a warming meal any time of year, but it’s especially satisfying when you can use your garden-grown tomatoes, squash, and basil. Eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and serve with crusty bread.
Rotini With Kale and Walnut Pesto
Adding kale along with the basil pesto tempers the sauce and adds a hearty helping of greens in the process. Plus, I’m always looking for new ways to use kale that don’t require me massaging it beforehand. This recipe keeps it simple and doesn’t add any other vegetables to the pasta, letting the kale and basil pesto shine.
Zucchini Noodle Chicken Pesto Bowl
Try saying that five times fast! Zucchini cut into the shape of noodles is such a fun way to eat your veggies. Pan-fried chicken, basil pesto, and cherry tomatoes turn these zucchini noodles into a satisfying dinner, in just 20 minutes.
Chicken Florentine Pesto Pasta
Bow tie pasta wins the pasta cuteness award. Dress it up with chicken, spinach, white wine, and of course, pesto. You may want to chop the chicken breast into the same-size pieces as the pasta to make it easier for children to eat.
Italian Gnocchi Skillet With Chicken and Pesto
Making dinner in 15 minutes sounds too good to be true, but with the help of pre-cooked chicken strips, store-bought pesto, and a package of gnocchi, you’ll be eating dinner before you know it. If spinach and cherry tomatoes aren’t your thing, feel free to substitute for kale and sliced red peppers.
Shrimp and Artichoke Pasta
Pasta dinners are my weeknight go-to. The spaghetti is tossed in the pesto before adding the sauteed shrimp and artichokes. Canned artichokes are a fine substitute for frozen, just remember to drain them before adding to the pasta.
Pesto Pasta With Spinach and Avocado
All you need are 6 ingredients and you’ll have a crowd-pleasing pasta dinner. Pesto and fusilli pasta are the main ingredients, which makes this a very flexible recipe. Use whatever pesto you have on hand or experiment with an untraditional variation, such as pea pesto.
Lemon Pesto Turkey Pasta
Turkey season is almost here but even if you’re not looking for a way to use up all that leftover Thanksgiving turkey, this is a recipe worth checking out. Substitute ground turkey and have dinner on the table in 30 minutes.