Pesto – it’s an Italian staple sauce that Americans have had a love affair with for decades. Traditionally served over pasta, there is so much that can be done when pesto is used as the starting point for other accompaniments. Perfect for your next Italian themed get together, here is a popular base recipe for pesto – accompanied by simple ways to turn the sauce into its own marinade, butter and aioli.

Recipes contributed by Ephraim Gallor of Full Plate Hospitality.
Photos by Michelle Talsma Everson


Basic Pesto Recipe

Basil0.25 lbs basil, fresh, no stems
3 oz roasted garlic
3 oz Asiago cheese, shaved or grated
1 TBSP pepper, whole black
1 TBSP salt, kosher
2 cups oil, olive blend
2 oz walnuts
1 TBSP lemon juice (fresh squeezed preferred)


  1. Remove stems from basil and weigh.
  2. Rough chop basil and place in blender.
  3. Add garlic, Asiago, salt, pepper into blender and grind up ingredients.
  4. Once all ingredients are rough ground, slowly add oil.
  5. As pesto begins to come together and thicken, continue to add oil slowly into the sauce until all oil is added.
  6. Make sure all ingredients are fully incorporated and oil has become completely emulsified.
From this pesto recipe you can make these other great options:
Pesto Sandwich. Photo by Michelle Talsma Everson

Pesto Sandwich. Photo by Michelle Talsma Everson

Pesto Marinade

This is great for chicken, turkey, pork, beef and other meats

1 cup pesto
2 TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP granulated sugar

Pesto Butter

This is great for grilled sandwiches

½ cup butter
2 TBSP pesto
1 TBSP garlic powder

Pesto Aioli

Use this in place of traditional mayonnaise

½ cup mayo
2 TBSP pesto
1 TBSP lemon juice

Pesto Sandwich

Pesto Sandwich. Photo by Michelle Talsma Everson

One popular use for pesto that isn’t your traditional pasta, it is the pesto chicken sandwich. When creating your own, here are some pointers:

  • For sliders, use 2 oz pieces of chicken breasts; for a whole sandwich, use a 6 oz portion.
  • Coat chicken with Pesto Marinade and let sit in refrigerator for 8 hrs.
  • Cook the chicken in a hot sauté pan, barbecue or grill.
  • Melt the Mozzarella on top of the chicken.
  • Spread ¾ TBLS pesto butter on one side of each slice of bread or on the insides of your bun or baguette
  • We recommend a pretzel bun or baguette–but can use any kind of sandwich bread (thicker breads preferred)
  • Grill the bread (butter side down)
  • Spread the Pesto Aioli over the inside of the sandwich
  • Place the chicken and melted Mozzarella on the sandwich, top with fresh tomato (sprinkle tomato with salt and a light splash of extra virgin olive oil), butter lettuce and the bread.



Mozzarella. Photo by Michelle Talsma Everson

Ephraim Gallor is the director of operations for Full Plate Hospitality, a restaurant and bar consulting business based in Phoenix, Arizona.
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