PestoThe Modern Mother SauceMore

Most people are familiar with classic Italian pesto, a green sauce made from basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt, and olive oil. But Leslie Lennox, founder of the award-winning artisanal pesto company Hope’s Gardens, shows us that pesto need not be limited to its original ingredients—and that creative pestos can serve as building blocks for all manner of flavorful dishes, just like any good “mother sauce.”

In Pesto: The Modern Mother Sauce, Lennox introduces readers to a new way to think about pesto. In the right proportion, almost any combination of plants, garlic, nuts, cheese, seasoning, and oil can make a delicious sauce—especially when you’re using what’s on hand, what’s local, and what’s in season.

Lennox offers up several favorite pesto recipes, and then takes these simple sauces a step further. They serve as the building blocks for 97 kitchen-tested recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and more. From risotto and ramen to chicken fajitas and swordfish kebabs, everything tastes better with pesto!


Leslie Lennox is a recipe developer, cooking instructor, urban gardener, and founder of Hope’s Gardens, an artisanal condiment company based in Atlanta. A former fashion stylist, she worked with Vera Wang at Vogue, spent time as an art photographer, and founded a handcrafted products and greeting card company, selling her designs internationally through Barneys, Papyrus, and many other retailers. She lives in New York City with her husband, Dave. This is her first cookbook.

“Pesto is the only condiment I prefer to make at home, and now with Pesto: The Modern Mother Sauce, I’m inspired to make it not only differently, but more frequently! Leslie Lennox offers up recipes for unique varieties of pesto like Roasted Jalapeño Cilantro and inventively provides ideas for new ways to incorporate the sauce into recipes like Chicken Pesto Fajitas. Whether you’re looking for a guide on how to grow herbs and make exciting pesto combinations or just searching for healthy and delicious meal inspiration, Pesto is a fabulous choice.” —Ali Maffucci, cookbook author and founder of Inspiralized

“I’m so excited to cook my way through Leslie’s book. Traditional pesto was one of the first things I taught myself how to make as ‘an adult.’ It’s time to expand my pesto repertoire past basil, and it’s lovely to have this beautiful book as a guide.” —Kerry Diamond, editorial director of Cherry Bombe and host of the Radio Cherry Bombepodcast

“If you think you know all the ways to make pesto, think again. This fabulous cookbook is brimming with fresh ideas.” —Suzy Chase, host of the Cookery by the Bookpodcast

“Once you learn how to customize your ideal pesto, you’re unlikely to go back to store-bought versions. Leslie carefully guides readers to create many varieties of this modern ‘mother sauce,’ including classic and globally inspired versions. This enjoyable cookbook just may convince the skeptic that pesto works as wonderfully on grits and tacos as it does on pasta and pizza.” Diana Kuan, author of Red Hot Kitchen

“At the heart of Pesto: The Modern Mother Sauce is passion. Leslie’s love of “green gold” (as her family calls it) is inspiring, as is her dedication to democratizing pesto—offering readers a user-friendly template from which to build a sauce that fits individual tastes and dietary needs. This is an exciting, bold, and most importantly, delicious collection of recipes that is perfect for feeding family, friends, and neighbors.” —Hetty McKinnon, cook, columnist, and author of Family: New Vegetarian Comfort Food to Nourish Every Day

“The modern home cook is looking for two things: freshness and convenience. In this beautiful book, Leslie Lennox gives us both. She offers delicious recipes that use familiar ingredients in simple but creative ways to help home cooks upgrade every meal. Lennox makes a convincing case that pesto, in any form, is always a good idea. Consider this the pesto manifesto.” —Alison Cayne, founder of Haven’s Kitchen

“Leslie Lennox has a passion for pesto and showing people the array of delicious combinations that anyone can concoct with a few simple, fresh ingredients. I have always been a huge advocate of her innovative ways to use pesto, and we included them in a variety of our soups, sandwiches, and salads in the early days of our restaurant!” —Jenny Levison, chef-owner of Souper Jenny