This pesto salad dressing recipe is fresh, vibrant and easy to make. Perfect on salad with pizza. Keto and Paleo friendly!
Pesto Salad Dressing
I love cooking but sometimes you just need someone to bring you a pizza.
You know the situation – it has been a long day. All you want to do is flop on the sofa with Netflix and a glass of wine while someone brings supper to you.
We do not order pizzas very often, but when we do I like to make a fresh salad to go with them.
We usually have a bag of leaves of some sort in the fridge and I am sure that a portion of raw vegetables offsets the pizza somehow. It certainly balances out the flavours and a good sharp dressing cuts through the richness of the cheese.
This pesto dressing has a kick of basil as well as a good squeeze of lemon. The mustard gives it a little depth.
The light, summery flavours bring back memories of Italy and go so well with many Italian foods.
I like a pesto vinaigrette on bitter leaves like watercress and rocket (another classic combination with pizza), but it also combines well with tomatoes or avocado, and would be good on a mixed salad too.
Using and Choosing Pesto
Although it’s a useful cupboard standby, I never seem to get through much pesto as I only use tiny quantities. It doesn’t keep for long in the fridge once opened, so when I open a jar, I keep it in the freezer.
The oil prevents it freezing rock solid, so it is always easy to scoop a spoonful out, and pop the jar back in. I find this saves a lot of expensive waste!
If you are following a particular diet or have allergies, read the ingredients list carefully when buying ready-made pesto.
Some versions are vegetarian and some are not, depending on the cheese. Others are dairy-free and vegan.
Some contain only pine kernels (most people with nut allergies also cannot have pine nuts) or no seeds at all, while others substitute all sorts of nuts. Remember to check!
If you have plenty of basil to use up, of course, you could just make your own pesto or pistou (the French version with no seeds or nuts).
How to Make Pesto Salad Dressing
It really doesn’t get any easier than this!
Step 1 – Place all the ingredients into a jar and screw the lid on.
The mustard helps to emulsify the dressing, or stops it separating. If you don’t like mustard you can leave it out; although in this recipe you can barely taste it, but be aware that the dressing will separate more quickly.
Step 2 – Shake, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed and serve.
Hints, Tips & Variations
- This pesto dressing will keep for four days in the fridge, so you make enough to see you through a few days. Take out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature (the olive oil might have solidified), give the jar a good shake before serving.
- For a more vibrant dressing use a fresh rather than jarred pesto.
- Make it with red pesto for variation.
- If you only want to make enough to dress the one salad, make the dressing in the bottom of the serving bowl, mixing it with a mini whisk.
- Swap the honey for maple syrup or agave and use a dairy-free pesto to make it vegan.
How to use up leftover pesto
- Freeze it! I usually add a little extra olive oil to the jar and put the whole thing in the freezer. Or you can portion into an ice cube tray.
- Mix it with cannellini beans along with a little softened onion to make a salad.
- Add it to roasted summer vegetables, or spread it on a wrap to fill with peppers and grilled halloumi.
- Add it to a bean soup.
- Use it on bruschetta and top with tomatoes and olives.
This simple Italian inspired pesto salad dressing recipe is fresh, vibrant and easy to make. Perfect on salad paired with a takeaway pizza. Easily vegetarian and vegan)
- 4 tbsp good quality olive oil
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp pesto
- 2 tsp mustard (mild)
- 2 tsp honey (maple or agave)
- salt & pepper to taste
Place all the ingredients in a jar. Screw the lid on tightly and give a good shake.
Adjust the seasoning and serve over salad leaves.
If you want this to be vegan, use vegan pesto and agave or maple syrup rather than honey.
It will keep for 4 days in the fridge. Shake well before each use.
This dressing is perfect on cold pasta for a salad.
Freeze leftover pesto into individual portions in an ice cube tray.
- This reciep is 1 Weight Watchers Smart Point per portion
Update Notes: This recipe was originally posted in March 2016, but was rewritten and republished with new photos, step by step instructions and hints & tips in September 2019.
If you love pesto, you may want to try my Carrot Top Pesto!