Remember that time the sandwich lady kindly asked if you wanted pesto on your bread and you turned her down with a look of utter disgust? Yes? Well then stop reading right here, take a moment, and reflect deeply on your mistake. Just kidding- but hopefully I’ve diverted your attention away from whatever assignment you should be focusing on, and onto a much more pressing issue: the lack of pesto in your diet.

Pesto is a wondrous concoction originating from the humble coasts of northwestern Italy. While its color leaves much to be desired, this viridian mixture of basil, garlic, pine nuts and olive oil merits your attention and consumption solely for its versatility and simplicity. Pesto is easy to make and serves as a great topping for many types of common college dishes such as pasta, sandwiches, noodle salad and chicken. So what do you need to make pesto? Fear not; here at Spoon, you have questions and we have the answers.

Arugula and Almonds

A twist on traditional pine nuts and basil, pesto made from arugula and almonds serves as a great mild complement for more flavorful entrees such as pizza, both red meat and poultry, fish, and tomato salads. Since self-promotion has always been our motto, check out our wonderfully easy goat cheese & arugula pesto pizza recipe!


Photo by Marci Green

Spinach and Cashews

Noticing a pattern here? Pesto can be made by mixing and crushing various combinations of herbs and nuts along with garlic and olive oil and cheese if you please; feel free to experiment with the assortment of expiring greens you have hidden deep in the recesses of your fridge. This specific combination is slightly sweeter than its arugula and almond cousin and makes a good topping for noodle salads as well as other mild flavored dishes.


Photo Courtesy of Flickr

Cilantro and Peanuts

Last but not least, this final marriage is suitable as a marinade for chicken or a mix-in for fried rice, filling a flavor profile that is stronger and more aromatic than those of the rest on this list.


Photo by Han Shi

These combinations are just a few of many and you would have to be NUTS not to try some of them…but bad puns aside, these blends are delicious on their own but also serve as as a good base for more complex flavors. Add a splash of rice wine vinegar or fish sauce with the cilantro blend for a delicious Asian-style noodle sauce, or blend the spinach and cashews with fresh or dried pepper for an unexpected kick. For those of you that are tired of seasoning your food with just salt and pepper, pesto made from any combination of the ingredients above can serve as a simple, clean and sophisticated way to spice up your next masterpiece.