What in the heck is that green stuff called pesto anyway? The Italians have birthright to this savory green sauce that is generally made with bits of basil, garlic, salt, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts (can be omitted if you have a nut allergy) and olive oil. Not only is pesto healthy, but it also has endless uses. Pesto is actually very easy to make, but you can buy it in any grocery store too. If you do make it on your own the great news is that pesto freezes exceptionally well, so you can make a big batch and store it for future use.
A quick word of caution: Don’t overuse pesto — it can be quite overpowering and leave your recipe looking like a St. Paddy’s Day brawl in no time flat. If you’re unfamiliar with where to use it, here’s a slew of ideas to get you going:
- Pesto Bread: It doesn’t get easier than this, folks! Just a smear of pesto and you’ve got a great variation on garlic bread. These take just 25 minutes to make from top to bottom and would make a great dinner appetizer, too.
- Green Pizza: Pesto on pizza is just a natural. Don’t even worry about making the pizza at home, you can just as easily jazz-up your take-out pizza with a spritz of pesto for added flavor and cool color.
- Pesto Pasta Salad: Hot or cold pasta will gather some great flavor with the addition of some pesto. There are literally dozens of ways to use pesto in pasta, so you shouldn’t be afraid to add it to your dishes.
- Grilled Shrimp: Fire up your indoor grill or BBQ if you’ve got one, and brush on a bit of pesto for a pretty and healthy dish. Just a few minutes of work yields an inventive twist on ordinary shrimp.
- Pesto Steak: A little of the green stuff goes a long way on a steak.
- Potatoes: Whether baked or mashed, pesto is a delightful twist on the ordinary. I’ve even used it as a dip for French fries.
- White Bean Pesto Dip: Okay, now I’m really hungry! If you’ve checked out our post on dips and you’re still hankering for something different, this white bean dip is sure to fit the bill and it’s super easy to make.
- Marinade: Pesto rocks as a marinade on either chicken or fish. This same recipe can be used for either one.
- Scrambled Eggs: Add some punch to tiresome eggs with a touch of pesto and you’re on your way to an appealing variation that will add some energy to breakfast.
- Soup: Don’t think I’m kidding you for one minute. If you haven’t heard of pesto soup, then you’re certainly missing out.
Final Thoughts: Pesto can be made in lots of different ways (and comes in plenty of variations as well), so you don’t have to stick to the basil recipe above by any means. You’ll see versions with parsley, sundried tomatoes (often called red pesto), red peppers, spinach and on and on. Let your imagination run wild.
So what are you using pesto for? We’d love to hear your ideas!
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I have always wanted to try pesto on a number of things – thanks for all these great ideas.