Pesto is a versatile sauce that can be added to just about any dish that crosses your mind. When you decided to give it a go, be sure to use only fresh ingredients to complement its simplicity and bring out its flavor.
Since you don't need to cook pesto, it's perfect for a summer meal (but great all year long). A traditional Italian topping with origins in northern Italy, pesto gets its name from the way it was originally made -- pounded or crushed (using a mortar and pestle was the equivalent of using a food processor today).
Making pesto is about as simple as can be and the best part is that the amount of ingredients you add is based on your tastes. Keep in mind that, although it's versatile, you don't want to load it on -- a little goes a long way.
The most common ingredients for pesto include basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese, but this is a dish you can definitely switch up. Swap the pine nuts for walnuts. Replace the Parmesan with Asiago. Brighten things up by adding red peppers or sun-dried tomatoes. In fact, you can even make pesto using arugula, parsley, asparagus or spinach instead of basil.
Pesto is most commonly used served over pasta -- hot and cold -- but its possibilities are endless! Use it for the following:
Makes about 2 cups
To use with pasta, simply prepare your pasta as normal. Add the pasta to a large serving bowl and toss the pesto sauce together with the hot pasta.
If you'd like, you can also add chicken, shrimp or additional vegetables to the dish, tossing together and serving warm.
Makes about 1-1/2 cups
Who knew green on your food could taste so good? Simple, fresh and tasty, pesto is the perfect pairing for so many meals.
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