Pesto rosso takes minutes to whip up, and you can use it in multiple dishes in the kitchen. Like its basil-infused cousin, pesto genovese, pesto rosso hails from Italy, where it is traditionally made from dried tomatoes, almonds, garlic, rosemary or basil and olive oil. Some versions call for fresh tomatoes and chopped olives as well. Use it on meats, over pasta, on crusty breads or even in salads.
Sauce It Up
The classic way to use pesto rosso is as a pasta sauce. Boil spaghetti, penne or another type of pasta until tender. Drain the pasta, but reserve a bit of the water. Combine the pesto with the reserved water and serve it over the pasta with a bit of grated cheese. Add grilled chicken or shrimp for a heartier meal or swirl a dollop of cream into the sauce.
The Sandwich Crowd
Pesto rosso's rich, full-bodied taste is right at home on most breads and sandwiches. Slather it on slices of crusty bread for a simple bruschetta or use it as a pizza sauce on your favorite pizza. Spread it on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise for a savory change of pace. Try it with turkey, roast beef, avocado and a variety of cheeses.
The Main Course
The garlic and rosemary in pesto rosso make a fine accompaniment to most grilled or roasted meats. Brush pesto rosso on chicken, steak or pork chops during the last few minutes of grilling. Watch the meat closely so that the pesto doesn't burn. Alternatively, brush the pesto on oven-roasted meats, including whole roasted chickens, during the last few minutes of cooking time. The tomatoes and garlic caramelize slightly to make a sweet but smoky sauce. Combine pesto rosso with softened cream cheese, ricotta or breadcrumbs to make a savory stuffing for meats.
Take a Dip
Pesto rosso on its own can be a bit too intense for a dip, but mixing it with dairy products mellows it. Combine pesto rosso with Greek yogurt, sour cream or softened cream cheese and serve as a dip or spread with crackers, flatbread or vegetables. You can spread this dip on sandwiches as well.
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Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."
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