The Sweet Additions That Will Have You Rethinking Pesto

Marinara may be the go-to spaghetti sauce in the U.S., but pesto is many Americans' preferred sauce for everything from fettuccine to grilled chicken. According to La Cucina Italiana, pesto is currently ranked as the world's second most beloved pasta sauce, and making a basic pesto at home is a cinch. This simple recipe consists of garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, basil, lemon, and capers. And thanks to its fresh ingredients, pouring pesto on your pasta will provide you with antioxidants and healthy fats (per Healthline).

However, after years of pairing this tasty and nutritious sauce with healthy meals like The View From Great Island's chickpea salad, you may think of pesto as a savory topping only meant for savory foods. But what if we told you that you've been sincerely underestimating pesto's power? It's time to stop putting this foodie favorite in a box. Buckle up, because the best way to upgrade pesto sauce is to mix it with some sweet-to-eat ingredients.

Blending the savory and sweet

At first glance, adding sweet ingredients to a dish that has garlic probably seems like a bad idea. However, according to MasterClass, mixing some sweetness into your pesto will unlock its flavor potential. They suggest that the best way to add a sugary taste is to use natural sweeteners like agave syrup, maple syrup, or dates into this decadent sauce. However, The Herbeevore also notes that honey is another great way to add a touch of sweetness to your pesto. Their recipe for honey walnut pesto also swaps pine nuts for walnuts, which are much more commonly available in stores. 

After you've sweetened your pesto pot, MasterClass notes you'll be left with a thick and sugary sauce that can top off countless dishes like a savory pizza or roasted veggies. Using this sauce to sweeten an already saccharine vegetable like roasted sweet potatoes will surely please your taste buds. However, don't be afraid to further experiment with savory and sweet flavors by adding your sweet pesto to dishes like this salmon, cucumber, and green apple salad (via The Food Network). With your sweet pesto sauce in hand, no flavor is off-limits.