Dill Pesto

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We Poles, love to add dill to everything. It did not take me long to figure out I could make pesto with it – Dill Pesto. Does this sound awesome or what?

Think of all the delicious dishes or snacks you can enjoy with it. My mouth is watering just a little. 

top view of garnished bowl of dill pesto, spinach leaves, dish with fresh dill and roasted pumpkin seeds, lemon wedges

I hope you will make this Dill Pesto, it showcases this herb’s unique flavor beautifully. This not-so-very-traditional combination of dill, spinach, and roasted pumpkin seeds yields a very delicious and creamy spread that can be used in so many ways.

a dollop of dill pesto on a plate, garnished with crushed pumpkin seeds, chopped dill, top view

Why you will love this Dill Pesto Recipe

Unique flavor profile – the combination of fresh dill, tangy feta cheese, and nutty roasted pumpkin seeds creates a unique and irresistible flavor profile that’s unlike traditional pesto.

Versatility – this pesto is incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of ways. It’s delicious tossed with pasta, spread on sandwiches or wraps, drizzled over roasted vegetables or grilled meats, or used as a dip for bread or veggies.

Texture and crunch – the addition of roasted pumpkin seeds provides crunch and nuttiness to the pesto, adding texture and depth of flavor.

Mediterranean flair – tangy feta cheese brings a Mediterranean twist and rich creaminess to the Dill Pesto

Customizable – pesto recipe is highly customizable, allowing you to adjust the ingredients and seasonings to suit your taste preferences. You can experiment with different herbs, cheeses, nuts, and seeds to create your own signature pesto.

Nutritious and delicious – This gluten-free Dill Pesto is nutritious, and packed with vitamins and minerals from fresh dill and spinach, making it a great way to support overall health. The combination of roasted pumpkin seeds and olive oil provides healthy fats, while the lemon juice adds a dose of vitamin C, enhancing immune function.

Ingredients, Variations and Substitutions

ingredients to make dill pesto with name tags

Fresh Dill – an herb with a bright, slightly tangy flavor that’s both sweet and slightly bitter. Use the freshest dill possible for the best flavor. Remove any tough stems before using it. If dill is unavailable, you can use a combination of other herbs such as cilantro or a bit more spinach/basil.

Spinach – adds a mild flavor and vibrant green color. You can blanch the spinach briefly and squeeze out excess water to avoid a watery pesto. It offers a mild flavor and vibrant green color, and it’s packed with nutrients. Using spinach in pesto can provide a more subtle herbaceous flavor compared to the strong peppery notes of basil. Arugula, parsley, kale, cilantro or mint can be used instead.

Pumpkin seeds – great if you need to make nut-free pesto since most pesto recipes include pine nuts. Roasting the seeds before using them will enhance their flavor. Pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, or cashews can be used instead, but keep in mind, that this recipe will no longer be nut-free.

Feta cheese – provides a tangy, salty, and creamy element to the pesto. Crumble it finely for easy blending. Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, goat cheese, or even ricotta for a milder flavor.

Garlic cloves – adds a pungent, spicy kick to the pesto. Adjust the amount of garlic to taste, especially if you prefer a milder or stronger garlic flavor. Garlic powder (use sparingly) or roasted garlic for a sweeter, milder flavor.

Olive oil – provides a rich, fruity base that blends the ingredients smoothly. Use extra virgin olive oil for its superior flavor and health benefits. Avocado oil or a neutral oil like grapeseed oil, though the flavor will be less robust.

Lemon juice – brightness and acidity, balancing the richness of the cheese and oil. Freshly squeezed lemon juice is best for its vibrant flavor. Lime juice or a splash of white wine vinegar for acidity.

Salt and pepper to taste – start with a small amount and adjust to taste, especially since feta cheese can be quite salty. For a different twist, you can use sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, or freshly ground black pepper.

Equipment you will need: 

  • Food Processor or Blender
  • Meas
  • Knife and Cutting Board
  • Citrus Juicer (Optional)
  • Spatula
  • Baking Sheet and Parchment Paper (for roasting seeds):
bowl with dill pesto, lemon wedges, bread slices, butter knife, dish with pumpkin seeds

Top Tips for best tasting fresh Dill Pesto

Use fresh ingredients – fresh dill, spinach, or basil, will give your pesto the best flavor and aroma. Remove any wilted or browned stems.

Toast the seeds – roasting pumpkin seeds enhances their nuttiness and adds depth to the pesto.

Balance flavors – the right balance of acidity, saltiness, and creaminess makes the pesto shine. Adjust lemon juice, feta cheese, and seasoning to taste as you blend the pesto.

Add olive oil gradually – adding the extra virgin olive oil slowly ensures the pesto emulsifies and achieves a smooth, creamy consistency. Drizzle the olive oil in a steady stream while the food processor or blender is running.

Scrape down the sides – ensuring all ingredients are evenly blended.

Use cold ingredients – helps preserve the vibrant green color of the herbs. 

Don’t overblend – it can cause the olive oil to heat up and turn bitter. Blend until just combined and smooth, but avoid running the processor for too long.

Adjust Consistency – the perfect pesto should be thick enough to coat the pasta but not too thick to spread. If too thick, add a bit more olive oil or a splash of water. If too thin, add more herbs or seeds.

Taste and adjust seasonings – tasting as you go ensures the pesto meets your flavor preferences. Add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice as needed after blending. You can even consider garnishing your pesto with red pepper flakes or sliced almonds.

Proper storage – pesto can oxidize and turn brown if not stored properly. Store in an airtight container, and pour a thin layer of olive oil on top to preserve freshness. Keep in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze in ice cube trays for longer storage.

bowl with dill pesto garnished with crushed pumpkin seeds, chopped fresh dill, lemon wedges, bread slices, butter knife, dish with pumpkin seeds

What cheese to use in Pesto

Parmigiano-Reggiano: the “King of Cheeses,” is a hard, rich in nutty flavor with a slightly gritty texture.

Parmesan: It has a similar hard, granular texture and a sharp, nutty flavor.

Pecorino Romano: similar to Parmesan cheese but with a sharper and saltier flavor.

Grana Padano: a semi-aged cheese with a nutty and savory taste. Offers a milder flavor compared to Parmesan.

Manchego: a Spanish cheese with a buttery and slightly tangy flavor. Adds a unique twist to traditional pesto.

Goat Cheese: creamy and tangy, with a distinctive flavor. Adds a rich and creamy texture to the pesto.

Gorgonzola: bold and creamy, with a distinct blue cheese flavor. Ideal for adding a strong and tangy kick to your pesto.

Asiago: nutty and slightly sweet, with a firm texture. Adds a rich and savory taste to the pesto.

a dollop of dill pesto on a plate, garnished with crushed pumpkin seeds, chopped dill, 3/4 view

No Basil, no problem. 

You could not find fresh basil or don’t like it. Here is a list of great substitutions that can be used in your pesto without compromising the flavor of basil pesto. Each option offers a unique twist while still delivering the vibrant taste you expect from basil pesto.

Spinach – adds a mild flavor and vibrant green color. Blanch the spinach briefly and squeeze out excess water to avoid a watery pesto.

Arugula – offers a peppery kick that pairs nicely with the freshness of dill. Balance the pepperiness with a touch more lemon juice.

Cilantro – gives a unique, slightly citrusy flavor. Great if you’re making dishes with a Latin flair.

Kale – adds a hearty, earthy taste and a nutritional boost. Remove the tough stems and blanch briefly to soften the leaves.

Mint – brings a refreshing, bright note to the pesto. Use sparingly if you don’t want it to overpower the dill.

Watercress – provides a peppery, slightly spicy flavor. Pair it with sunflower seeds for a nutty balance.

Step-by-step instructions to make Dill Pesto

  • Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C).
  • In a bowl, toss the raw pumpkin seeds with olive oil until evenly coated. You can add a pinch of salt at this stage or other spices of your preference (garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, or cumin)

  • Spread the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Make sure they’re not crowded to ensure even roasting.
  • Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and roast the pumpkin seeds for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown and crispy. Keep an eye on them to prevent burning.

  • Once roasted, remove the pumpkin seeds from the oven and let them cool completely on the baking sheet. They will continue to crisp up as they cool.
  • Rinse the dill and spinach, and roughly chop the garlic cloves.
  • Add the dill, spinach, roasted pumpkin seeds, feta, and garlic to a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped.

  • With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy.
  • Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste, and pulse a few more times to combine. Adjust seasoning as needed.
  • Optionally, garnish with sliced almonds, red pepper flakes, or more feta cheese.
close up of pesto pasta, dish with pumpkin seeds and fresh dills, lemon wedges

How to Best enjoy Dill Pesto

  • Pasta – toss dill pesto with your favorite pasta and red pepper flakes for a quick and flavorful meal.
  • As a spread – for sandwiches, wraps, or paninis.
  • Dip – serve as a dip for fresh veggies, breadsticks, or crackers. Add a dollop to your hummus or Greek yogurt for a tasty variation.
  • Salad Dressing – thin the pesto with a bit of extra olive oil or lemon juice and drizzle over salads. Perfect for pasta salads, grain bowls, or mixed green salads.
  • Marinade – use as a marinade for chicken, fish, shrimp, or tofu before grilling or baking.
  • Pizza sauce – use as a base sauce for pizza or flatbreads instead of traditional tomato sauce.
  • Eggs – drizzle over scrambled eggs, omelets, or frittatas for a flavorful breakfast.
  • Roasted Vegetables – toss grilled or roasted veggies with dill pesto for a tasty side dish. Works well with potatoes, carrots, zucchini, and bell peppers.
  • Soup garnish – swirl a spoonful of dill pesto into creamy soups like potato, tomato, or vegetable soup. Adds a burst of flavor and a touch of color to the soup.
  • Stuffed Peppers or Mushrooms – mix dill pesto with quinoa, rice, or couscous and use it to stuff bell peppers or mushrooms. Bake until the peppers or mushrooms are tender and the filling is hot.
pesto pasta served on a plate, slices cucumbers, pumpkin seeds, hand in frame holding fork, dish with feta cheese

Extra Tips:

  • Serve your dill pesto dishes with a crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or a light, refreshing beer.
  • Garnish dishes with extra fresh dill, lemon zest, or a sprinkle of roasted seeds for a beautiful presentation.

You may also like:

Storage instructions,

Refrigerator:

  1. Place the leftover pesto in an airtight container. Smooth the top surface with a spoon.
  2. Pour a thin layer of olive oil over the surface of the leftover pesto. This helps prevent oxidation and keeps the pesto green.
  3. Label the container with the date and contents.
  4. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days.

Freezer:

  1. For easy use, divide the pesto into portions. You can use an ice cube tray or small freezer-safe containers.
  2. Freeze pesto cubes or portions until solid.
  3. Once frozen, transfer the cubes or portions to a freezer-safe bag or container. Remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.
  4. Label the bag or container with the date and contents.
  5. Store in the freezer for up to 3-4 months.

Reheating Instructions:

Thawing Frozen Pesto:

  1. Transfer the desired amount of pesto from the freezer to the refrigerator. Let it thaw overnight.
  2. Place the frozen pesto in a sealed plastic bag and submerge it in a bowl of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until thawed.
  3. Place the frozen pesto in a microwave-safe container. Use the defrost setting or low power to thaw, checking and stirring every 30 seconds.

Reheating:

  1. Pesto is typically served at room temperature or slightly warm. Let it sit out for 10-15 minutes after thawing to reach room temperature.
  2. Add the pesto to your hot pasta, vegetables, or protein directly. The residual heat from the dish will warm the pesto.
  3. If you prefer it slightly warmer, microwave the pesto in a microwave-safe container for 10-15 seconds. Be cautious not to overheat, as this can cause the pesto to lose its vibrant color and fresh flavor.

Additional Tips:

  • Always stir the pesto before using it, as the ingredients can separate over time.
  • Pesto is best enjoyed at room temperature or slightly warm. Overheating can cause the olive oil to separate and the herbs to lose their vibrant color and fresh taste.

top view of garnished bowl of dill pesto, spinach leaves, dish with fresh dill and roasted pumpkin seeds, lemon wedges

Dill Pesto

Sylwia Vaclavek
We Poles love to add Dill to everything. It did not take me long to figure out I can make delicious pesto with it – Dill & Feta Pesto.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Roasting 20 minutes
Total Time 37 minutes
Course sauce
Cuisine Polish
Servings 30
Calories 43 kcal

Equipment

  • food processor or blender
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • Knife and cutting board
  • citrus juicer
  • spatula
  • baking sheet, parchment paper

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 cup packed fresh dill
  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach
  • ½ cup crumbled feta
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup olive oil plus more to thin
  • Juice of one lemon

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C).
  • In a bowl, toss the raw pumpkin seeds with olive oil until evenly coated. You can add a pinch of salt at this stage or other spices of your preference (garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, or cumin)
  • Spread the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Make sure they’re not crowded to ensure even roasting.
  • Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and roast the pumpkin seeds for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown and crispy. Keep an eye on them to prevent burning.
  • Once roasted, remove the pumpkin seeds from the oven and let them cool completely on the baking sheet. They will continue to crisp up as they cool.
  • Rinse the dill and spinach, and roughly chop the garlic cloves.
  • Add the dill, spinach, roasted pumpkin seeds, feta, and garlic to a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped.
  • With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy.
  • Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste, and pulse a few more times to combine. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Notes

Use fresh ingredients – fresh dill, spinach or basil, will give your pesto the best flavor and aroma. 
Toast the seeds – roasting pumpkin seeds enhances their nuttiness and adds depth to the pesto.
Balance flavors – adjust lemon juice, feta cheese, and seasoning to taste as you blend the pesto.
Add olive oil gradually – adding the olive oil slowly ensures the pesto emulsifies and achieves a smooth, creamy consistency. 
Don’t over blend – it can cause the olive oil to heat up and turn bitter.

Nutrition

Serving: 2tbspCalories: 43kcalCarbohydrates: 0.4gProtein: 1gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 69mgPotassium: 24mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 0.01gVitamin A: 226IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 17mgIron: 0.2mg
Keyword dill, dill pesto, pesto
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Conclusion

I can go on and on about how delicious this Dill Pesto is, but I really want you to make it and taste it yourself. If you are looking for an alternative to the classic basil and pine nuts pesto, this Dill Pesto is it. It hits all the points: easy to make, herby, salty, smooth, and delicious. Pairs well with so many dishes. I bet it will become your new favorite.

FAQ

What is pesto?

Pesto is a traditional Italian sauce made by blending fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. There are many variations, including those using different herbs, nuts, and cheeses.

Can I make pesto without a food processor?

Yes, you can make pesto using a blender, mortar, and pestle, or by finely chopping the ingredients by hand and mixing them.

Can pesto be made without nuts?

Absolutely. You can make nut-free pesto by using sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or simply omitting the nuts and seeds altogether.

How long does pesto last in the fridge?

Fresh pesto typically lasts about 5-7 days in the refrigerator when stored in an airtight container. Adding a thin layer of olive oil on top can help preserve its freshness.

Can pesto be frozen?

Yes, pesto freezes well. You can freeze it in ice cube trays and then transfer the frozen cubes to a freezer bag. It can last up to 3-4 months in the freezer.

What dishes can I use pesto in?

Pesto is versatile and can be used in pasta, sandwiches, salads, as a marinade, on pizza, with grilled meats, as a dip, and more. Click HERE to read more on how to enjoy Dill Pesto best.

Can I make pesto without cheese?

Yes, you can make a vegan pesto by omitting the cheese or using a plant-based cheese alternative or nutritional yeast.

Why does my pesto turn brown?

Pesto can turn brown due to oxidation. To prevent this, store it in an airtight container with a layer of olive oil on top, or add a bit of lemon juice to the recipe.

Is pesto healthy?

Pesto can be a healthy addition to your diet, especially when made with fresh ingredients. It’s rich in healthy fats, vitamins, and antioxidants, but it should be consumed in moderation due to its calorie content.

What can I substitute for basil in pesto?

You can substitute basil with other herbs like parsley, cilantro, arugula, spinach, mint, or even kale. Click HERE to read more about basil pesto substitutions. Click HERE to read more.

Can I make pesto with dried herbs?

Fresh herbs are preferred for pesto due to their vibrant flavor and color. Dried herbs can be used in a pinch, but the flavor and texture will be different.

Why is my pesto bitter?

Bitter pesto can result from over-blending the olive oil, which can cause it to oxidize. Use a mild olive oil and blend briefly, adding the oil gradually.

How can I thicken or thin my pesto?

To thicken the pesto, add more cheese, nuts, or herbs. To thin it, add more olive oil or a splash of water or lemon juice.

Can I use different nuts in pesto?

Yes, you can experiment with different nuts like walnuts, almonds, cashews, or pecans for a unique flavor.

What is the best way to store pesto?

Store pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator, covered with a thin layer of olive oil to prevent oxidation. For long-term storage, freeze it in ice cube trays. Click HERE to read more about storage instructions.

Is pesto safe for pregnant women?

Yes, pregnant women can generally enjoy pesto, but there are a few important considerations to keep in mind to ensure it is safe and healthy for them. Make sure the pesto is made using fresh ingredients, pasteurized cheese and has been stored properly. Before making pesto review nut allergies and adjust accordingly.

Is pesto vegetarian?

Pesto can be vegetarian, but it depends on the ingredients used. To ensure your pesto is vegetarian, you need to use cheese that is made without animal rennet – vegetarian Parmesan, Pecorino Romano or aged Asiago. For a vegan and vegetarian-friendly option, nutritional yeast can be used to add a cheesy flavor without any animal products.

What is the pesto-to-pasta ratio?

The recommended ratio is 1/4 to 1/3 cup of pesto per 1 pound (16 ounces) of pasta.

What is the difference between pesto vs chimichurri?

Pesto and chimichurri are both popular sauces made from herbs, but they have distinct ingredients, flavors, and culinary uses. Here’s a detailed comparison:

Pesto: A creamy, nutty, and herbaceous sauce from Italy, primarily used with pasta, meats, and as a spread or dip.

Chimichurri: A fresh, tangy, and garlicky sauce from Argentina and Uruguay, primarily used as a condiment for grilled meats and vegetables.

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