If you only need the bottoms of green onions for a recipe, don’t throw away the tops! Use them to make this delicious scallion pesto. It’s a tasty spring recipe that features a combination of fresh basil and green onions instead of just basil. Use it as a pasta sauce, on sandwiches, or as a veggie dip.
If there’s anything that screams spring, it’s fresh pesto! Seriously though, we’re only a few weeks into spring (at least by Minnesota standards) and I’ve already made 4 batches of homemade pesto, including Ramp Pesto, Radish Top Pesto, and Mint Basil Pesto. I can’t be stopped!
I just love how green and fresh and versatile pestos are and how they can be made with so many variations. This version is a fun twist that can also help you cut down on food waste in the kitchen! Instead of using only basil, I mixed in the tops of green onions. This lends a more pungent onion taste to the pesto, but I countered it by using slightly more pine nuts than usual.
The final result is DELISH with just the right amount of nutty, salty, and onion-y notes in every lil’ spoonful. It pairs perfectly with vegetables and tasted amazing with the turkey meatballs and quinoa that we made one night for dinner! I can’t wait to hear how you use your own scallion pesto!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Scallions: Also known as green onions, these are the star ingredient! Some recipes only call for the white and light green parts of scallions, so this scallion pesto is intended to be a way for you to use the darker green tops. But it’s so good that it’s totally justified to buy a bunch of scallions just to make this recipe. Just keep the white and light green parts for another dish and use them as you would a regular onion. You could add those parts to the pesto too, but keep in mind that they have a stronger flavor.
- Basil: You will need about a cup of packed basil leaves.
- Lemon juice: Squeeze this out of a small lemon or half of a large lemon to get 2 tablespoons. If you don’t have lemon, you could try lime juice or red wine vinegar.
- Garlic: Use a clove of fresh garlic or about a teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Pine nuts: I use ½ cup of toasted pine nuts. Trader Joe’s sells them pre-toasted but you can also toast pine nuts yourself in a skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant (be careful not to burn them). If you don’t have pine nuts, try walnuts or cashews, but personally I think pine nuts offer the best flavor in scallion pesto since they offset the onion flavor and are slightly sweet.
- Extra virgin olive oil: My favorite brand is Partanna. Using a high-quality olive oil is key to making the best possible pesto!
- Parmesan cheese: I like to grate my cheese by hand from a block of aged parmesan but you can use pre-shredded too. If you need this recipe to be strictly vegetarian, look for parmesan cheese that is labeled vegetarian such as Whole Foods 365 brand.
The full recipe card for scallion pesto is at the bottom of the post. Here’s a preview of the incredibly easy steps!
Scallion pesto keeps very well in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator for about a week. You can also freeze pesto. Divide it up into smaller portions if you think you will only use a little bit at a time, store in freezer-safe containers, and freeze for up to 6 months.
Many people like to freeze pesto in silicone ice cube trays, since the cubes are a good portion size, then pop them out and store them in a freezer bag. Let the frozen pesto thaw in the fridge overnight or in a bowl of warm water if you are using it immediately. You can mix frozen pesto into warm dishes like pasta and it will thaw in them.
Scallion pesto is delicious on pasta, wraps, pizza, and sandwiches. It can be mixed into other recipes like meatballs, grilled cheese, and eggs or served as a veggie dip. For more ways to enjoy it, consider subbing it for regular pesto in these recipes:
More Dips and Sauces
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- Food processor or high-powered blender
- 1.5 cups roughly chopped scallion tops - green parts only from about 6 stalks
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- ½ cup toasted pine nuts
- 1 clove garlic - minced
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice - from half of a large lemon or 1 small
- ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor or high-powered blender. Note: if you want to use the white or lighter green part of the scallion, you are welcome to add them in addition to the green parts, but keep in mind that they have a stronger flavor.
- Pulse the ingredients until a paste forms. Slowly drizzle the olive oil through the whole in the lid until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. Stop and scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl as needed to promote even blending. You may find that you need a little less or a little more olive oil than the amount listed.
- Taste the pesto and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve as a dip, sauce, or spread. Enjoy!
- Leave a rating or review by tapping the stars on this recipe card (above) or in the comments section (at the end of the post)!
- Uses: Pasta, sandwiches, eggs, pizza, veggie dip, grilled cheese, meatballs
- Storage: Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week.
- Freezing: Transfer to freezer-safe containers, dividing it into smaller portions if desired, and freeze for up to 6 months. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight or in a bowl of warm water if you are using it immediately. You can also add frozen pesto to hot dishes like pasta and it will thaw/heat in there.
- If you don’t have pre-toasted pine nuts, toast them yourself spread out in a skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant. Stir often to prevent burning.
- If you need the pesto to be strictly vegetarian, look for parmesan cheese labeled vegetarian.