5 Easy Ways to Cook with Pesto

Trader Joe's Pesto

Trader Joe's Pesto

What exactly  is pesto you ask??

Pesto is a thick sauce made from fresh basil leaves, garlic, olive oil, parmesan cheese and pine nuts. All these ingredients are blended together until a smooth paste is formed. There are many ways that you can use pesto to add a wonderful flavor to your meals. Trader Joe’s sells a nice little jar of pesto that frequently is seen in our refrigerator.

Here are 5 of our favorite ways to use pesto:

1. Pasta

Yep, our number one way to eat pesto is with noodles. We like to toss the hot noodles with a couple of spoonfuls of pesto and then mix in a little parmesan cheese and black pepper. You can serve the noodles plain, or add some cooked broccoli or your favorite vegetable to this dish as well.

2. Steamed Vegetables

This is a wonderful way to make sure you eat your vegetables. We just steam up our favorite vegetables (say green beans or broccoli) and then drain away any extra water. Now toss the hot veggies with a spoonful (or two) of pesto and add some pepper (to taste) and enjoy.

3. Pesto Mayo

A quick dip or spread idea the next time you need one is pesto mayo. It is easy to make:  a spoonful of pesto and ½ cup of mayo (Start with these proportions and add more pesto if you like it a bit stronger). Season up with some salt and/ or black pepper and enjoy. This pesto mayo is also good as a sandwich spread with cheese or turkey slices. Experiment and see how many ways you can enjoy this spread.

4. Pesto on a flat bread or  frozen pizza

Pesto right from the jar makes a tasty addition to a plain flatbread or frozen plain pizza. Spread the pesto thinly onto the frozen bread of choice and heat in the oven following the package directions. You may wish to add some cheese on top. YUM! We made this one night when a “surprise” guest arrived, and we were up late talking. We had a couple of pita breads in the freezer and spread the pesto on the frozen bread. Then we tossed on whatever cheese we had and heated them up in the oven at 400 degrees for maybe 10 minutes. We waited until the cheese was nice and bubbly. Not too bad for an “emergency” snack- and our friend raved on and on about how great it tasted.

5. Eggs

This one is the most odd, but then next time you make scrambled eggs and are adding leftover vegetables or potatoes to the eggs, try a small spoonful of pesto as well. The sauce never blends into the scrambled eggs entirely in the bowl, but once the eggs hit the pan the pesto melts and flavors the entire dish. This is a great way to use up some leftovers from other meals, and to also enjoy “breakfast for dinner” in a new way.

Remember that experimenting and trying new things is the fun part of cooking.  We recommend that you start with only a small amount at first, maybe 1/2 a small spoonful and then taste the dish. If you think that there is not enough flavor, add more pesto a little at time until you like the taste.  Eventually, the more you cook and try new flavors, the more confident you will be.

These are our top 5 ways to enjoy that small jar of pesto. What are your favorite ways to use pesto?

5 comments for “5 Easy Ways to Cook with Pesto

  1. April 21, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    I’m a pesto-lover – our family has an annual pesto-making day with the basil we grow in our garden, and I once made an unbelievable rosemary pesto, and then LOST the recipe – ARGH! So it’s great to see these wonderful ways to use this totally sensuous condiment. Thanks!

  2. Delaina & Kris
    April 22, 2010 at 7:30 am

    Phila- I am glad that you like pesto as well. Your family pesto- making day sounds like a fun event. And what is that about rosemary pesto? It does sound absolutely wonderful. Cheers! Kris

  3. Jill
    July 12, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    I love Caprese salad and don’t always have fresh basil on hand. Here’s a variation that uses Trader Joe’s pesto: slice some tomatoes, season with garlic salt and pepper, top each slice with a small piece of fresh mozzarella, a dab of pesto, and half a black Calamata or Greek olive. Yummo!

  4. Delaina & Kris
    July 12, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    WOW! Thanks for that great Salad idea…. sounds just delish! I can’t wait to try it~ Cheers! Kris & Delaina

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