Creative Twists: 5 Unique Pesto Uses Beyond Pasta

Elevate your meals with basil pesto beyond pasta; from breakfast eggs to avocado toast, pesto-stuffed mushrooms, pesto pizza, grilled cheese, mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, soups, salads, bread, and guacamole.

Green fettuccine and Pesto sauce in vintage spoon on glass jar of pesto sauce with ingredients on rustic white wooden table. Traditional Italian pesto recipe for making fettuccine, pasta, bruschetta

Basil pesto, a vibrant and aromatic sauce, is a staple in many kitchens, primarily known for its role in transforming pasta dishes. Yet, this culinary gem has the potential to elevate a myriad of other meals, from grain salads to wraps, with its rich, herbaceous flavor.

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Transform Breakfast with Pesto

Healthy Organic Pesto Egg Toast for Breakfast with Pepper

Elevate your morning routine with the bright, herbaceous kick of basil pesto. Moving beyond its traditional role in pasta, pesto can add a layer of complexity and fresh flavor to your breakfast favorites.

Top Your Eggs

Pesto and eggs are a match made in culinary heaven. Whisk a dollop of pesto into your scrambled eggs before they hit the pan, infusing every bite with a burst of basil goodness. For a more visually appealing approach, spoon a bit of pesto over a perfectly fried or poached egg. The warm yolk mixing with the pesto not only adds a rich, creamy texture but also amplifies the egg’s mild flavor. Incorporating pesto into egg dishes like quiches or frittatas can turn a simple breakfast into a gourmet experience. Just stir some pesto into your egg mixture, or for a more pronounced flavor, swirl it on top before baking.

Spread on Avocado Toast

Avocado toast has become a breakfast staple for its delicious simplicity and nutritional benefits. Take this trendy dish to the next level by spreading a layer of pesto on your toasted bread before adding the avocado. The nutty, garlicky flavor of the pesto pairs beautifully with the creamy avocado, offering a more complex taste profile. For an extra boost of texture and flavor, top your pesto avocado toast with cherry tomatoes, radishes, or a sprinkle of hemp seeds. This combination not only brightens your morning plate but also ensures a more satisfying and energizing start to your day.

Reinvent Your Snacks and Appetizers

Basil pesto hummus on a dark wood background. the toning. selective focus

Elevate your snack game with these ingenious pesto-infused ideas. Who knew a simple herb sauce could transform appetizers from basic to brilliant?

Pesto-Stuffed Mushrooms

Turn ordinary mushrooms into a gourmet treat with a dollop of vibrant pesto. Start by selecting large button mushrooms, and removing their stems to create a hollow. Mix a generous spoonful of pesto with breadcrumbs, a bit of grated parmesan, and if you’re feeling adventurous, a handful of finely chopped walnuts for that extra crunch. Stuff the mushroom caps with this mixture, drizzle with a little olive oil and bake at 375 degrees until the mushrooms are tender and the tops are golden. Whether it’s for a party of one or a full-blown gathering, these pesto-stuffed mushrooms promise to steal the show.

Pesto Swirled Hummus

Why settle for plain hummus when you can add an Italian twist? Prepare your favorite hummus recipe or grab a store-bought container, and then come to the fun part. Dollop a few tablespoons of pesto on top of the hummus and use a toothpick or a knife to create beautiful swirls that not only look impressive but infuse your hummus with a fresh basil and garlic flavor. Serve with a colorful array of veggies, pita chips, or warm bread for dipping. It’s a simple yet sophisticated way to spice up your appetizer table and give your guests or family something to rave about.

Upgrade Your Main Courses

Delicious pizza with pesto, cheese and basil on wooden table, closeup

Diving deeper into the culinary world of pesto, let’s explore how this versatile sauce can utterly transform your main courses from the mundane to the magnificent. Whether you’re sprucing up a weeknight dinner or looking for something special to impress guests, these ideas will have you viewing pesto in a whole new light.

Pesto as a Pizza Sauce Alternative

Forget the traditional red sauce on your next pizza night and spread a layer of rich, aromatic pesto across your dough instead. This simple swap upgrades any homemade pizza into a gourmet experience. Here’s how to make it irresistible:

  • Start with a base of whole wheat pita bread or your favorite homemade pizza dough.
  • Spread 1-2 tablespoons of homemade or high-quality store-bought pesto evenly over the surface, leaving a small border for the crust.
  • Top with your favorite ingredients. Consider combinations like sautéed mushrooms, roasted red peppers, red onion, and a sprinkle of crumbled blue cheese for a burst of flavor.
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is golden. The result? A delish meal that’s as easy on the eyes as it is on your palate.

Pesto-Infused Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Elevate the classic grilled cheese sandwich with a generous swipe of pesto. Adding this green sauce introduces a whole new layer of flavor, making a simple meal feel like a culinary treat. Here’s your path to cheesy perfection:

  • Butter two slices of bread on one side each, and spread a thick layer of pesto on the other side of one slice.
  • Place your preferred type of cheese between the pesto-coated side and top it with the other slice, buttered side out.
  • Heat a pan over medium heat and cook the sandwich until golden brown on each side, ensuring the cheese is melted to gooey goodness.
  • Slice and serve hot for a comforting yet sophisticated twist on a childhood favorite.

By integrating pesto into your main dishes in such innovative ways, you’re not just cooking; you’re creating. These ideas prove pesto’s power to elevate even the simplest meals into something truly special. So next time you find yourself reaching for that jar of pesto, think beyond pasta—you’ve got all the inspiration you need to make your meals memorable.

Elevate Side Dishes

Mashed potato with pesto sauce and sweet pea in a bowl over light slate, stone or concrete background.Top view.

After exploring the vibrant versatility of basil pesto in mains and snacks, let’s dive into how this green gem can take your side dishes from simple to spectacular. Whether you’re aiming for comfort or looking for a fresh twist on veggies, pesto’s got you covered.

Pesto Mashed Potatoes

Imagine your creamy mashed potatoes with a twist. Stirring in a tablespoon or two of pesto not only adds a pop of color but also brings a burst of flavor that’ll make you reconsider the classic gravy companion. This method introduces herbal depth and richness, making it an instant favorite. To whip up pesto mashed potatoes, simply prepare your potatoes as usual, mash them to your preferred consistency, and then mix in the pesto. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and voilà, you’ve got yourself a dish that stands out with minimal effort. For an extra touch of creativity, leftovers can be formed into potato cakes or croquettes, adding a delightful crunch to your next meal.

Pesto Tossed Roasted Vegetables

Roasted vegetables are a staple side that pairs well with almost anything, but toss them in pesto and you elevate them to a whole new level of yum. The process is straightforward yet transformative; roast your choice of vegetables—be it broccoli, asparagus, carrots, or a medley of your favorites—until they’re tender and caramelized. Once out of the oven, while still warm, toss them with a generous dollop of pesto to coat the veggies in that aromatic, herby sauce. This not only adds a layer of nuanced flavors but also a vibrant visual appeal. The nutty, garlic notes of the pesto complement the natural sweetness of roasted veggies, making them irresistible. It’s a simple tweak, but it turns your standard roasted vegetables into a dish that’s both comfortingly familiar and excitingly novel.

Enhance Your Soups and Salads

Pesto and pine nut pasta salad, fusilli pasta with regato cheese and baby spinach coated in basil pesto, Italian food

Exploring beyond side dishes and mains, let’s dive into how adding a dollop of basil pesto can significantly elevate the flavors of your soups and salads. The freshness of basil and the nutty punch from the pine nuts work wonders in these lighter dishes.

Swirl Pesto into Soups

Adding a burst of flavor to your soup is as easy as stirring in a spoonful of pesto right after you’ve taken it off the heat, just before serving. Why does this work so well? Most summer soups are broth-based and teeming with seasonal veggies, making them a perfect canvas for basil’s aromatic qualities. Plus, the ingredients commonly found in pesto, like garlic and lemon, are already staples in soup recipes. The pine nuts add a slight thickening quality to the soup, enriching its texture without overpowering the main ingredients. And visually, a swirl of pesto adds a touch of elegance to even the simplest of dishes. So, whether it’s a chilled gazpacho or a hearty minestrone, a dab of pesto can transform your soup from good to gourmet with minimal effort.

Mix Pesto into Salad Dressings

Think of pesto not just as a pasta sauce, but as a flavor-packed condiment that can revolutionize your salad dressings. For a quick and refreshing pesto vinaigrette, combine equal parts of pesto and olive oil, then season with a splash of lemon juice and a pinch of salt for balance. This dressing is perfect for drizzling over a bed of mixed greens, fresh tomatoes, and mozzarella for an instant Caprese salad, or use it as a zesty marinade to perk up grilled vegetables or chicken before tossing them into a salad. The brilliance of using pesto in dressings lies in its versatility and its ability to add depth and richness to what might otherwise be a mundane salad. Give it a try, and you’ll find it hard to go back to store-bought dressings.

Creative Pesto Infusions

Branch out from the usual pesto pasta with these innovative ideas that’ll have you seeing basil pesto in a whole new light. Let’s get creative and infuse your meals with some pesto magic.

Pesto Baked into Bread

Imagine the aroma of freshly baked bread enhanced with the herby goodness of basil pesto. You’ve got to try baking pesto right into your bread for a delightful twist. Whether you’re kneading your dough from scratch or jazzing up a store-bought loaf, mixing in a generous swirl of pesto adds a flavorful depth. For a hands-off approach, spread pesto over crusty bread before toasting it to perfection. But why stop there? Stir pesto into bread dough for remarkably fragrant dinner rolls. If baking isn’t your thing, no worries. Combine pesto with softened butter and spread it over rolls or fresh bread for a simple, sophisticated upgrade.

Pesto Swirled into Guacamole

Yes, you read that right. Take your guacamole game to the next level by swirling in some basil pesto. Mixing these two beloved spreads creates an unexpectedly perfect fusion of flavors. Start with your classic guacamole recipe, then add a tablespoon or two of pesto, adjusting to your taste. The rich, nutty pesto pairs beautifully with the creamy, zesty avocado, making for a dip that’s both familiar and thrillingly new. It’s a bold move that pays off, giving you a standout dish for your next gathering, or just to enjoy with your favorite chips on a quiet night in.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does pesto last in the fridge?

Pesto will last in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. If you’ve stored it in the freezer, it will last for 6 months. When you’re ready to use frozen pesto, thaw it overnight in the fridge or place the container of pesto in a bowl of warm water for a quicker thawing time. Do not try to thaw frozen pesto by microwaving it!

Do you warm up pesto before you put it over spaghetti?

PESTO SHOULD NEVER BE “COOKED”. If you cook Pesto Sauce, you change the makeup of the fresh basil and cause it to turn darker in color. It is best to warm it up and use it at room temperature. If it needs to be thinned out, you can do so by adding a little water, chicken stock, cream, or white wine.

What meat goes with pesto?

Pesto complements a variety of meats including:

  • Pesto Pork Chops
  • Pesto Meatloaf
  • Pesto Meatballs
  • Pesto Schnitzel
  • Pesto Stuffed Chicken Breasts
  • Pesto Lamb Shank Tagine These options showcase pesto’s versatility with meat dishes, offering a refreshing burst of flavor.

What does pesto taste best on?

Pesto is incredibly versatile and tastes great on a wide range of dishes such as pasta, sandwiches, and pizza, and even as a condiment for meats, fish, and vegetables. It can also be enjoyed in salads, as a dip, and more.

What do people eat with pesto pasta?

Accompanying pesto pasta with crusty bread like Rosemary Focaccia with Roasted Garlic is ideal for soaking up any leftover sauce. A light and refreshing side such as a Lemon Parmesan Lettuce Salad complements the rich flavors of the pasta perfectly, balancing out the dish.

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