18 Super-Fast Meals to Make With a Tub of Pesto Sauce|Recipes Spots

  • on September 16, 2023
18 Super-Fast Meals to Make With a Tub of Pesto Sauce

5-Ingredient Pesto Shrimp with Cherry Tomatoes in a Bowl, and in the Background, a Tray of Garlic Bread and Cherry Tomatoes
Simply Recipes / Coco Morante

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

Plate of Pesto Meatballs with Two Bowls of Sauce (Pesto and Marinara)
Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

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

Grilled Chicken Caprese Sandwiches on a Parchment Lined Tray, and on the Counter Next to the Tray, Plates With Individual Ingredients
Simply Recipes / Hannah Zimmerman

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

Vegetarian soup with pesto in a white bowl with a gold spoon to the right and a second bowl in partial view in the upper right. Sliced carrots, chopped asparagus, tortillini and peas are in the broth with a dollop of pesto in the center.
Katie Morford

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

5-Ingredient Pesto Shrimp with Cherry Tomatoes in a Bowl Next to Cherry Tomatoes on a Vine
Simply Recipes / Coco Morante

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

Three Cheese Lasagna
Elizabeth Stark

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

Whole Wheat Pasta with Kale Pesto
Sally Vargas

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

Chicken Minestrone with Basil Pesto
Sally Vargas

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

Pesto Pasta Salad in a bowl with tomatoes and peas.
Elise Bauer

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

Veggie Burgers with White Beans
Megan Gordon

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

Pesto Mac and Cheese Casserole
Alison Conklin

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

Sheryl Julian

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

Horizontal view of a white bowl with rotini and kale pesto inside. Walnuts and basil are in the background.
Nick Evans | Art Banner Credit: Andy Christensen

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

Zucchini Noodle Chicken Pesto Bowl
Elise Bauer

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

Chicken Florentine Pesto Pasta with a blue linen.
Elise Bauer

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

Italian gnocchi pasta in a skillet.

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

Shrimp Artichoke Pasta
Elise Bauer

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

Pesto Pasta with Spinach and Avocado
Elise Bauer

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

Lemon Pesto Turkey Pasta
Elise Bauer

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.

Article Categories:
Salad · Sandwiches

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