If you love the taste of basil, you can expect to encounter it in several different forms during a visit to a local Italian restaurant. Not only will this herb be present in many different tomato-based sauces, but it's also the star ingredient in pesto. Combined with olive oil, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese, basil helps to give pesto a unique flavor that many people thoroughly enjoy. Lots of Italian restaurants — in particular, those that focus on authentic cuisine — have several basic pesto dishes on their menus. Here are some popular dishes that you'll enjoy.
Pesto And Pasta
When you think of a pasta dish at an Italian eatery, you might think of it featuring a tomato sauce or a cream sauce. These options are certainly popular, but many Italian restaurants also have pesto-based pasta dishes. They can vary considerably depending on where you're eating, but it's common to have your choice of pasta and protein. For example, an option that many people enjoy is penne pasta tossed in pesto with pieces of chicken or shrimp. If you enjoy pasta dishes and are looking for a change from what you usually order, this can be a good dish to try.
If you're looking for a unique way to begin your dining experience, you might wish to see if the restaurant has pesto salad on its menu. This is a dish that varies considerably, but that always offers the pronounced taste of pesto. Some pesto salads feature a selection of colorful vegetables — cherry tomatoes, red onions, cucumber, and more — that are tossed in pesto. A lot of these salads feature small mozzarella balls, and some even contain small pieces of pasta that you can easily eat in just a bite or two.
Pesto Garlic Bread
Many people enjoy garlic bread while dining at Italian restaurants. Some entrees come with one or two pieces of garlic bread, but it's often possible to order a basket of garlic bread to share with your dining partners. At some eateries, you have the option of ordering pesto garlic bread — that is, garlic bread that is brushed with a serving of pesto. The flavor of the basil in the pesto pairs well with the garlic, and the crisp exterior and soft interior of the bread make for a pleasing texture combination. Keep pesto dishes in mind during your next visit to an Italian restaurant in your area.