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Five Fresh Ways to Use Pesto

Eataly Magazine (July 29, 2019)
Sure, pesto and pasta are a classic combination – especially with trofie, gnocchi, or lasagne – but even this famous sauce from the shores of Liguria needs to branch out now and then. Here are a few ideas to freshen up your summer cooking repertoire.

Basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmigiano Reggiano DOP, Pecorino, extra virgin olive oil, salt. At just seven ingredients, pesto alla genovese is simple, seasonal, and an absolute staple of Italian summer.

Sure, pesto and pasta are a classic combination – especially with trofie, gnocchi, or lasagne – but even this famous sauce from the shores of Liguria needs to branch out now and then. Here are a few ideas to freshen up your summer cooking repertoire.

1. VEGETABLES

Make the most of your summer produce haul with pesto as a flavorful garnish. Add pesto to boiled potatoes and green beans for a potato salad with an Italian twist. Lighting up the grill? Loosen your pesto with a glug of extra virgin olive oil and use as a dip or drizzle for grilled vegetables.

2. PIZZA

Pizza rossa, pizza bianca...how about a pizza verde? Instead of tomato sauce, smear pesto on the base of pizza. Top with green beans, thinly sliced potatoes, and a soft, fresh cheese like mozzarella or stracchino. Give it a shot with our pizza alla pala recipe!

3. FOCACCIA

Go all-in on a genovese spread: both focaccia and pesto are Ligurian specialties, so it goes without saying that the combination is simply magical. Be sure to make or buy a pesto with extra virgin olive oil from the Ligurian Riviera, which has a delicate and aromatic flavor that doesn’t overpower the pesto.

4. CHEESE

It’s no secret that fresh mozzarella and pesto are a match made in paradiso. Toast up a hunk of rustic country bread, spread with fresh cheese like burrata or stracciatella, and top with pesto for a quick and easy summer lunch. Got tomatoes on hand? Drizzle on top of an insalata caprese as an unexpected substitution for fresh basil leaves.

5. MINESTRONE

For cool summer evenings that call for warm seasonal eats, a dollop of pesto adds a burst of flavor to summer vegetable soups. In Italy, this is called Minestrone alla Genovese. Just before serving, add a tablespoon of basil pesto on top of each bowl. 

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