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9 Make-Ahead Pesto Dinners Ready in 30 Minutes or Less

Pesto! It's the simple trick that solves the healthy dinner dilemma.


Easy Pesto

Photo by KGora

With a little pesto on hand, you can always have a super-fast, healthy dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less...even on the craziest nights.

HERE'S THE KEY: Pour your pesto into ice trays, and freeze. Then use the individual cubes to make simple pastas. Or spoon the pesto onto broiled salmon or chicken.


Freezing Pesto in Serving Sized Portions

Photo by Meredith

7 Super-Quick Pesto Recipes

There are so many different flavor combos to try. Homemade pesto hits the trifecta. It's inexpensive, goes a long way, and lends itself to a number of super quick meals.

1. Basic Pesto | A classic style with fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and Parmesan.

2. Pesto with Arugula | Combines the peppery bite of arugula with basil, red wine vinegar, and a dash of cumin. No cheese in this one.

3. Thai Pesto | Cilantro stands in for basil in this Thai take. Peanut butter, ginger, a dash of fish sauce, and brown sugar round it out.

4. Easy Pesto | A simple version with almonds.

5. Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto | This one does it nut-free.

6. Easy Kale Pesto | Another twist on the traditional. Use a robust extra-virgin olive oil for maximum flavor.

7. Mexican Pesto | Cotija cheese replaces Parmesan, pepitas replace pine nuts, and cilantro stands in for basil.

More Pesto Sauce Recipes.


Pesto with Salmon

A simple pesto pasta with baked salmon | Photo by Meredith

Quick-and-Easy Pesto Recipe Ideas

1. Pesto Pasta Caprese Salad | Ready in 20 Mins.

"The traditional Caprese salad modified to pasta form. The mozzarella here is fresh mozzarella -- if you use the brick style, it will not be the same. If you can't find the pearlini mozzarella, use the cieglini and cut it in half." -- thedailygourmet


Pesto Pasta Caprese Salad

Photo by Molly

2. Pesto Turkey Burgers | Ready in 20 Mins.

"An awesome turkey burger with garlic, pesto, feta cheese, and seasoned salt. Even my husband liked it, and he typically will only eat traditional burgers!" -- ELADOUSA


Pesto Turkey Burger

Photo by Marianne

3. Pesto Pasta with Chicken | Ready in 30 Mins.

"Easy and delicious pasta with chicken. Use as much or as little pesto sauce as you like. Using homemade pesto will taste even better, but it adds to prep time. Enjoy!" -- Kristin


Pesto Pasta with Chicken

Photo by Deb C.

4. Pesto Pizza | Ready in 20 Mins.

"Out-of-this-world delicious!! It smelled so good while baking in the oven, and tasted even better. I used some homemade pesto from my basil plants - - nice and garlicky. There is nothing I would change on this's perfect." -- KOALAGIRL


Pesto pizza

Photo by Meredith

5. Creamy Pesto Shrimp | Ready in 30 Mins.

"I cheat, and use a packaged creamy pesto sauce mix. A TERRIFIC addition to this recipe is a can of diced Italian tomatoes. Just stir them in with the shrimp, and it combines with the pesto to make a beautiful sauce. Add some parmesan, and you've got a gourmet meal!" -- KVA1223


Creamy Pesto Shrimp

Photo by Dianne

6. Egg Pesto Breakfast Wrap | Ready in 25 Mins.

"A great combination of ingredients for anyone who enjoys a good breakfast wrap. If you like a lot of pesto, spread it on the wrap before you add the eggs. Goes well with grapes on the side!" -- spinn710


Egg Pesto Breakfast Wrap

Egg Pesto Breakfast Wrap | Photo by Linda T

7. Simple Pesto Pasta | Ready in 15 Mins.

"Simply noodles with a pesto and butter sauce. You could add chopped cooked chicken or shrimp to make a fuller meal." -- MOMof5


Simple Pesto Pasta

Photo by Meredith

8. Pesto Chicken | Ready in 35 Mins.

"A simple way to make chicken that looks like you spent a lot of time preparing. You can also prep it ahead of time, and refrigerate until baked. Be sure to use a good quality pesto for best results. I like to serve it with pasta, but it is also nice sliced and served on a green salad." -- Pjaros


Pesto Chicken

Photo by Meredith

9. Teena's Spicy Pesto Chicken and Pasta | Ready in 40 Mins.

"A spicy chicken and pesto pasta dish that's easy to adjust to any heat level. I created it after eating a similar dish at a Santa Monica restaurant, and it's one of my favorites. Serve with additional grated Parmesan, if desired. As an option, it's delicious with creamy goat cheese stirred in at the end." -- LAGIRL


Teena's Spicy Pesto Chicken and Pasta

Photo by LynnInHK

OK, so that covers pesto. What about other healthy recipes that are also easy to make and ready in a flash? Yes, we have those, too.

Check out our complete collection of Healthy Recipes.

Carl Hanson

About Carl Hanson

Carl will eat that. Share with him @CarlNo9 on Twitter.