As a recipe writer, I’ve been asked what vegetables to serve with pesto more times than I can count. People are always curious about what will pair well with this popular sauce.
I understand the confusion. After all, pesto is made with ingredients that are pretty intense on their own: garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and basil.
So what’s a cook to do?
The answer really depends on what type of dish you’re making. If you’re serving pesto as a dipping sauce or spread, then you’ll want to pair it with something that can stand up to its bold flavors. Think roasted vegetables or grilled meats.
But if you’re using pesto as a pasta sauce, then you’ll want to go lighter on the sides. A simple green salad or a plate of steamed veggies will do the trick.
Here are a few of my favorite vegetables to pair with pesto:
Vegetables That Go With Pesto
- Cherry tomatoes
- Cabbage (green or red)
- Brussels sprouts
- Broccoli and Bell peppers
- Green Beans
Cucumbers have been one of my favorite vegetables to pair with pesto since I was a kid. The cool, crisp crunch of cucumber is the perfect contrast to the rich, creamy sauce.
When you pair them together, you get a dish that is refreshing and satisfying. And since cucumbers are so low in calories, they make the perfect healthy side to any meal.
Another vegetable that goes great with pesto is cherry tomatoes. Everyone knows that tomatoes can be either sweet or savory. And when it comes to pesto, I think they work best on the sweeter side.
The acidity of the tomatoes helps to balance out the flavors of the pesto and makes for a truly delicious dish.
Cabbage (green or red)
If you’re looking for a vegetable that has a bit more of a bite, then cabbage is a great option. I like to use red cabbage because it has such beautiful color. But green cabbage works just as well.
The key with cabbage is to make sure that you don’t overcook it. You want it to be tender but still have a bit of crunch. Otherwise, it will just turn to mush when you mix it with the pesto.
Asparagus is one of my all-time favorite vegetables. It’s so versatile and can be used in so many different dishes. But my favorite way to eat it is with pesto.
The reason I love asparagus so much is because of its unique flavor. It’s slightly sweet with a bit of a nutty taste. And when it’s paired with pesto, the flavors just seem to dance on your tongue.
Spinach is another vegetable that goes great with pesto. I like to use baby spinach because it’s so tender and delicate. But you’re free to use any type of spinach that you like.
The great thing about spinach is that it’s packed with nutrients. So not only does it taste good, but it’s good for you too.
Celery is a vegetable that sometimes gets overlooked. But I think it’s a real hidden gem. It has a crisp, refreshing flavor that pairs perfectly with pesto.
Plus, celery is packed with fiber and nutrients. So it’s the perfect addition to any healthy meal.
If you’re looking for a vegetable that has a bit of an earthy flavor, then Brussels sprouts are a great option. They pair especially well with pesto because of their hearty texture.
Brussels sprouts are also high in fiber and nutrients. As a result, they’re an excellent complement to any nutritious plan.
Eggplant is another vegetable that pairs well with pesto. It has a slightly sweet flavor that goes well with the rich, creamy sauce.
Fun fact: Did you know that Italians used to believe that eggplant would make you insane? Thankfully, that’s not the case. But it does make for a delicious side dish.
When you’re choosing an eggplant, look for one that is firm and shiny. And avoid eggplants that are soft or have brown spots.
Cauliflower is a great option if you’re looking for a low-carb vegetable to pair with pesto. It has a mild flavor that lets the pesto shine through.
Cauliflower is high in nutrients, just like all of the other veggies on this list. Moreso, cauliflower is an excellent method to increase your vitamin and mineral intake.
Kale is another vegetable that goes great with pesto. It has a slightly bitter flavor that pairs well with the rich sauce. Plus, it’s loaded with nutrients.
So if you’re looking for a healthy and delicious side dish, then kale is a great option.
Broccoli and Bell peppers
Here’s a two-for-one combo that you’re sure to love. Broccoli and bell peppers go great with pesto.
The reason this pairing works so well is because of the contrast in flavors. The sweetness of the bell peppers helps to balance out the bitterness of the kale. And the result is a truly delicious dish.
If you are the type who loves your vegetables with a bit of spice, then you’ll want to try this pairing. The pesto pairs perfectly with the heat of the peppers. And the broccoli helps to cool things down a bit.
Carrots are another great option for what vegetables go with pesto. They have a slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with the sauce. Plus, they’re packed with nutrients.
Carrots are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. They’re also a good source of calcium, iron, potassium and even lutein. As a result, they’re the perfect addition to any healthy meal plan.
My favorite thing about carrots is the pop of color it adds to a dish. When you’re serving pesto, adding some carrots is a great way to brighten things up.
I have to tell you, I was hesitant to add onions to this list. They’re not my favorite vegetable. But I know that a lot of people love them. So I thought it was only fair to include them.
Onions have a sharp, pungent flavor that can be a bit overwhelming. But when they’re paired with pesto, the flavors come together perfectly.
If you’re looking for a bit of sweetness, then I suggest using red onions. They’re not as sharp as other types of onions and they add a beautiful brilliant color to any dish.
Green beans are another great option for what vegetables go with pesto. They have a slightly nutty flavor that pairs well with the sauce. Plus, they’re packed with nutrients.
They are an excellent source of folate, calcium, and iron. They’re also a good source of vitamins and antioxidants. As a result, they make a perfect addition to any healthy meal plan.
Green beans are one of my favorite vegetables, and I love the fact that they can be eaten hot or cold. They are a wonderful choice for a side dish that may be enjoyed all year.
I love beets! And I think they make a great addition to this list of what vegetables go with pesto.
They have a slightly sweet flavor that well with the sauce. Plus, they’re packed with nutrients. If you ever find yourself wondering what to do with beets, then I suggest giving this pairing a try.
This is one of my favorite pairings because it’s so unexpected. Beets and pesto may not seem like they would go well together, but trust me, they do!
This versatile vegetable is a great option for what goes with pesto. Mushrooms have a rich, earthy flavor that pairs well with the sauce. Plus, they’re packed with nutrients.
Mushrooms are an excellent source of selenium, fiber and protein. They’re also a good source of vitamins and antioxidants. What’s more? They’re capable of reducing the risks of diseases such as cancer, diabetes Alzheimer’s, heart disease and so on.
There are so many different types of mushrooms, so you’re sure to find one that you love. I suggest trying this pairing with shiitake or oyster mushrooms. But really, any type of mushroom will do.
Finally, we have artichokes. They have a slightly sweet and nutty flavor that pairs well with the sauce.
Plus, they’re packed with nutrients that can help improve your health in a number of ways. For instance, they’re known to improve digestion, lower cholesterol levels and even boost the immune system.
I love artichokes, and I think they make a great addition to this list of vegetables go with pesto. Give them a try, and I’m sure you’ll agree.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that we’ve gone over what vegetables go with pesto, let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
What is pesto?
Pesto is a sauce made from basil, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and garlic. It’s often used as a condiment or spread.
What are some other ways to enjoy pesto?
If you’re looking for other ways to enjoy pesto, then I suggest trying it on pizza, in soup or as a dip.
What is the shelf life of pesto?
Pesto can last for up to two weeks when stored in the fridge. But if you want it to last longer, then I suggest freezing it.
When it comes to pesto, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, pesto is very rich and flavorful, so you don’t want to pair it with something that is going to compete with it. Second, because pesto is made with olive oil, it can be quite heavy. This means that you’ll want to avoid anything else that is too greasy or oily.
With that being said, there are still a lot of great options for what vegetables go with pesto. I hope this article has helped you narrow down your choices and given you some ideas on how to create a delicious and healthy meal.