Veering off the well-trodden path of classic basil pesto, this delicate mint pesto is both zesty and bright.
When I first made it, I thought the mint flavor would hit me hard in the face. But in fact, combined here with parsley, it has a subtle freshness that makes it versatile. Tiny bits of chopped almonds give it texture, too.
HOW TO KEEP PESTO BRIGHT GREEN
Another alluring quality to this pesto is its bright green color. To keep it bright for a few days, blanch the mint and parsley briefly in boiling water, and then shock them in an ice water bath. The boiling water kills the browning enzymes that quickly cause the leaves—and the resulting pesto—to turn a drab olive color.
A trace amount of the flavor leeches out in the process, but this is also what makes the mint mellow instead of overpowering. Plus, we eat with our eyes, so I vote for blanching. You can also use this method for basil pesto or any other green herb you use in pesto.
TO ADD OR NOT TO ADD GARLIC
I tried making this pesto with and without garlic. I liked it without, but full disclosure, I am not a rabid garlic fan, especially raw garlic which, to me, can overpower other flavors.
But don’t let that stop you! If you love garlic, you will love this pesto with a clove of it in the mix.
BLENDER VS FOOD PROCESSOR
My first choice for making this pesto is with a food processor. It makes easy work and pulls everything together quickly. If you don’t have a food processor then all is not lost. You can make pesto in a blender, it just takes a little extra work.
To make this pesto in a blender, pack about half the mint and parsley leaves in the bottom of the blender pitcher and add the water. Keep blending, stopping, stirring, and scraping until they are well chopped. Add more leaves and the olive oil, repeating the stopping and stirring until chopped. Add the nuts last, and be patient!
HOW TO USE MINT PESTO!
That versatility I just mentioned? Here are a few ideas!
- Use it in in this knockout Spring Vegetable Salad with Mint Pesto.
- Serve it with lamb (step away from the wobbly mint jelly).
- Drizzle it over spring vegetables.
- Toss it with pasta.
- Smear it on a baguette with goat cheese for a sandwich.
- Swirl it into yogurt for a tasty dipping sauce for vegetables.
- Place a slice of feta on a cracker and dollop a little mint pesto on top.
- Mix mint pesto and feta into ground lamb for a tasty lamb burger.
- Toss it with warm small red or b-sized potatoes.
- Spread some over broiled or grilled fish.
YES, YOU CAN FREEZE PESTO!
If you have a backyard mint patch, you will surely want to make a double or triple batch of this pesto. Freeze it in ice cube trays, and once it’s frozen, transfer the cubes to a zip-top bag or other container so you don’t tie up your ice trays. The pesto will keep in the freezer for up to 12 months.
LOOKING FOR MORE PESTO RECIPES?
Mint Pesto Recipe
- 1/4 cup whole raw, unsalted almonds with skins
- 2 cups packed mint leaves, thick stems removed
- 1 cup packed flat leaf parsley leaves, thick stems removed
- 1/3 cup hot tap water
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 clove garlic, finely sliced (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of ground black pepper
1 Toast the almonds: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are fragrant. Remove from oven and let cool while you blanch the mint and parsley.
2 Blanch the mint and parsley: Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Set a bowl of ice water next to the stove.
Add the mint and parsley to the boiling water and leave it for 5 to 10 seconds, or just until they wilt. With a slotted spoon, transfer the herbs to the bowl of ice water. Swish them around for 30 seconds.
Drain into a colander, and with your hands, squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
3 Finish the pesto: In a food processor, combine the almonds, mint, parsley, hot tap water, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic (optional), salt, and pepper. Pulse until finely chopped.
Then, set the processor on continuous speed, and puree until creamy. If you like a slightly chunky pesto, stop the machine before it becomes smooth. (See note in post if using a blender.)
4 Season and store: Taste and add more salt and pepper if you like. Transfer to a glass jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Freeze in ice cube trays for up to 12 months.
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