Pesto is a classic that never goes out of style—in fact, its appeal is growing as chefs create new variations and signature ways to use this popular sauce-cum-condiment. And for good reason: Menu items featuring pesto support price premiums of 18-36% (1) , by adding distinctive flavor and appearance and an upscale perception of freshness and seasonality.
Though traditionally made with basil, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and Parmesan, pesto is easy to translate with other ingredients, including herbs like cilantro and mint, as well as elevated swaps such as arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, walnuts, and even repurposed carrot tops. That really puts innovation on tap.
Creative menu items featuring pesto include:
Pesto Grilled Veal Chop with Leek Sausage Parmesan Risotto at Café Maxx
Sqirl’s Sorrel Pesto Rice Bowl
Crab Cake BLT at Granite City Food & Brewery (with basil pesto aioli, smoked tomato marmalade, Arcadian greens and bacon on herbed focaccia)
Purple Carrot’s Potato Gnocchi in Arugula Pesto (with roasted cherry tomatoes and shaved asparagus salad)
Did You Know? Pesto is on 30.3% of U.S. menus and experienced four-year growth of 7.9% (2)
But, like all simple preparations, success with pesto starts with fresh, high-quality ingredients, which can be difficult to source consistently and temperamental to prep. For this reason, Minor’s has recently introduced a line of scratch-quality GreenLeaf™ Pestos, which provide the color, texture, aroma and flavor of housemade—and the versatility to create premium menu signatures.
Minor’s GreenLeaf Basil and Cilantro Pestos are made with 100% real Parmesan cheese, with no artificial colors or flavors. They’re also vegetarian, gluten free and formulated to contain no pine nuts (for allergen friendly kitchens). Minor’s proprietary Ready to Flavor™ technology, including state-of-the-art High Pressure Processing, is another quality innovation: Unlike conventional heat-processing methods, HPP preserves peak fresh color, aroma, flavor and texture. This makes pasta, salads, flatbreads, dips, sauces and many other preparations possible, without added labor in the kitchen.
Caprese Spring Rolls show how easy it is to create a signature appetizer/small plate that trades on an Italian favorite with a fun new texture and eye-catching appeal. Try This with Pesto:
Make Cilantro or Basil Pesto part of the build for an on-trend Avocado Toast, crostini or bruschetta
Stir Basil Pesto into vegetable soups such as minestrone or gazpacho to add flavor, body and value—or simply float a spoonful on top
Offer pesto as a full-flavored condiment or topping on a customizable menu platform—bowls, salads, burritos, tacos and more
Turn Cilantro Pesto into Latin chimichurri or Thai pesto with the addition of a few complementary ingredients
Use pesto as a flavor booster in a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich
Add Basil Pesto to burger, meatball and meatloaf mixtures