Taking Pesto Beyond Pasta

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DESCRIPTIONAndrew Scrivani for The New york Times Basil is the main ingredient in pesto, but substituting different herbs can open up a whole new world of sauces.

It’s time to rethink your pesto.

As Martha Rose Shulman writes in this week’s Recipes for Health, traditional pesto — made by grinding up basil, olive oil and other ingredients — makes a delicious accompaniment to pasta.

But what happens when you switch out basil for another herb or green? By using arugula, cilantro or other herbs you can take pesto beyond pasta, creating delicious sauces for vegetables, grains and grilled meat and fish. She writes:

There are sauces made with copious amounts of other herbs or greens not destined for pasta. They aren’t called pestos, yet that’s what they are — all made by grinding herbs and other ingredients to a paste, then thinning out and enriching with oil. If you are looking for ways to get more healthy green herbs into your diet, you can’t do better than these sauces. None of them requires pasta or bread to enjoy.

Here are five ways to reinvent pesto:

Arugula Pesto: Use this distinctive sauce with grains — risottos made with rice, barley, or wheat — or as a topping for tomatoes and pasta.

Baked Tomatoes With Arugula Pesto: Arugula and tomatoes just belong together. Here’s an unexpected but wonderful combination.

Chermoula: Chermoula is a pungent Tunisian herb sauce traditionally served with grilled fish.
Georgian Cilantro Sauce: Cilantro combined with apricots, walnuts, garlic and a pinch of cayenne makes a wonderful herb sauce to accompany grilled meats and vegetables.

Georgian Bean Salad With Cilantro Sauce: Liven up kidney beans with cilantro and garlic in this easy dish.