I really should have called this recipe “What to do with wilted lettuce” pesto but for the sake of simplicity, I kept it short and sweet. This easy lettuce pesto recipe brings new life to leftover spring mix, wilted spinach, or any other lettuce you’ve got hiding in your fridge. This easy pesto recipe takes less than a minute to make, then spread onto bread, chicken, salmon, pasta, or anything else your savory heart desires. Now, lettuce have a pesto party!
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It always hurts my heart to toss salad greens after they’ve passed their prime – especially when it’s before their ‘use by date’! The lettuce is either wilted from the refrigerator or I am tired of eating salads. I created this lettuce pesto recipe to not only repurpose wilted greens but also enjoy lettuce that is not just a salad. This is a different pesto recipe that’s breaking all the rules!
Lettuce Pesto in 3 Easy Steps
STEP 1: Gather your ingredients – 3 cups lettuce (or salad mix), 1 ounce Parmesan, 1/3 cup pine nuts, 1/8 cup olive oil, 3 garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, and salt & pepper to taste. STEP 2: Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend on low until a desired consistency (about 30 seconds). STEP 3: Enjoy! If adding to a pasta, reserve some of the pasta cooking water and add a little to the pesto to make it less thick.
Pesto Recipe Variations
A traditional pesto recipe is made with pine nuts, olive oil, Parmesan and/or Pecorino Romano, basil, garlic, and salt & pepper, all processed by hand with a mortar and pestle.
TRADITIONAL PESTO RECIPE VARIATIONS – Swap pine nuts for almonds, walnuts, or cashews. Swap olive oil for melted butter (like in this recipe), canola oil, avocado oil, or walnut oil. Swap or supplement Parmesan with Pecorino Romano. Swap or supplement basil with lettuce, spring mix, spinach, and/or a pinch of parsley. Swap the mortar and pestle for a food processor – whip up your pesto in 30 seconds, not 30 minutes!
CHEF’S TIP: Buy your nuts and hard cheeses in bulk, then freeze for later! Pine nuts can be expensive and the oils in fattier nuts (like with pine nuts, cashews, walnuts, and pecans) go rancid pretty quickly when stored at room temperature. When there’s a sale, I buy pine nuts and hard cheeses in bulk and freeze in a tightly sealed plastic bag. Freeze hard cheeses and nuts up to 6 months and freeze this recipe for up to 3 months!
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Give this unique pesto idea a try! In 30 seconds you’ll have yourself an easy, homemade pesto sauce made with lettuce instead of basil. Don’t toss that wilted lettuce, turn it into a pesto! This thick pesto is full of flavor and goes perfectly with breads, fish, and chicken. How’s that for a unique pesto idea?
- Prep Time: 3 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 seconds
- Total Time: 3.5 minutes
- Yield: 3/4 cup 1x
- Category: Sauce
- Method: Blending
- Cuisine: Italian
3 cups Salad Greens – half of a 5 ounce mixed greens container
1 ounce Parmesan Cheese
1/3 cup Pine Nuts
1/8 cup Olive Oil
3 Garlic Cloves
2 tablespoons Melted Butter
Salt & pepper to taste
- Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend on low for about 30 seconds or until desired consistency is reached. If the pesto is difficult to blend, scrape down the sides and add a teaspoon of olive oil or water.
Enjoy this lettuce pesto recipe with bread, crackers, sandwiches, salmon, chicken, pasta, vegetables, as a salad dressing, or in a soup.
If adding this lettuce pesto to a pasta dish, reserve some of the pasta cooking water to splash into the pesto before serving. Adding pasta cooking water helps to thin out the pesto and better coats the pasta. The recommended pasta to pesto ratio would be this recipe (3/4 cup) with 1 pound of pasta.
This pesto recipe keeps for 5 days in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer. If freezing, try portioning the pesto to an ice cube tray, that way you can pop out a pesto cube whenever you need one without having to thaw the whole container.
This pesto recipe works best with wilted mixed greens, spinach, and spring mix. I have not tried this recipe with the lighter lettuce varieties, like iceberg or romaine lettuce.
- Serving Size: 3 tablespoons (1/4 of recipe)
- Calories: 218
- Sugar: 0.5 g
- Sodium: 337 mg
- Fat: 22 g
- Saturated Fat: 6 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 16 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 3 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 4.5 g
- Cholesterol: 20 mg
Keywords: lettuce pesto
A special thank you to my Maricopa County Dietetic Intern Jenny Sánchez for assisting with recipe writing, nutrition analysis, and food styling!