There’s nothing quite as comforting as a big bowl of pasta. And when that pasta is topped with creamy pesto sauce, it’s hard to resist. But what type of meat should you serve with your pesto pasta?
The other day, my friend was in a bind. She wanted to make pesto pasta for dinner, but she wasn’t sure what meat to serve with it. She knew that the dish required a side of protein, but she didn’t know what would pair best with the sauce.
She asked for my help, and I was more than happy to oblige. Below, I’ve listed a few of my favorite meats to serve with pesto pasta and when and how to pair them.
Meat Dishes for Pesto Pasta
- Pork Chops
- Ground beef
Everyone knows that chicken goes with everything. And while that’s not strictly true, it is a pretty versatile meat.
You can cook it in so many different ways – fry it, bake it, grill it, or even turn it into chicken nuggets. No matter how you cook it, chicken is a great option for pesto pasta.
When pairing chicken with pesto pasta, I like to keep the flavors simple. I typically just season the chicken with some salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Then, I’ll cook it in a pan with some olive oil until it’s golden brown and cooked through.
If you’re looking for a more complex flavor, you could try marinating the chicken in a pesto-based sauce before cooking it. This will give the chicken a boost of flavor that will really complement the pasta.
Salmon is another great option for pesto pasta. It’s a rich, fatty fish that pairs well with the creamy sauce. Plus, it’s packed with healthy omega-three fatty acids. It is also a great choice for a weeknight meal.
This fish has done wonders for my skin, hair, and nails, so I like to eat it as often as I can. When pairing salmon with pesto pasta, I usually bake it in the oven.
I start by seasoning the salmon with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Then, I place it (skin-side down)on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake it at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.
The key to getting crispy, flaky salmon is to not overcook it. So be sure to keep an eye on it while it’s in the oven.
Shrimp is another seafood option that goes great with pesto pasta. It’s a light, delicate protein that pairs well with the sauce.
So many people are intimidated by cooking shrimp, but it’s actually very easy to do. And if you’re not a fan of seafood, you could always substitute chicken or sausage.
When pairing shrimp with pesto pasta, I like to grill it. I start by marinating the shrimp in a pesto-based sauce for about 30 minutes. Then, I preheat my grill to medium-high heat and cook the shrimp for about two minutes per side.
Shrimp cooks up in just a few minutes, making it a great choice for a weeknight meal.
Bacon makes everything better, including pesto pasta. The salty, smoky flavor of bacon pairs perfectly with the creamy sauce. Plus, it adds a nice crunch to the dish.
The most special thing about this dish is how the pesto pasta clings to the bacon. When I take a bite, I can taste all the different flavors and textures in each bite. The pesto pasta is creamy and flavorful, while the bacon adds a nice crunch.
If you’re looking for a more complex flavor, you could try substituting pancetta for the bacon. Pancetta is an Italian cured meat that has a similar flavor to bacon.
Sausage is another great option for pesto pasta. It’s a hearty, delicious protein that goes great with the sauce. It’s also high in beneficial fats and protein.
When pairing sausage with pesto pasta, I like to cook it in a pan with some onions and peppers. This gives the dish a nice flavor and texture.
I start by cooking the sausage in a pan over medium heat. Once it’s cooked through, I add the onions and peppers and cook them until they’re soft.
Then, I add the pesto pasta to the pan and toss everything together. The sausage adds a nice flavor to the dish, while the onions and peppers add a touch of sweetness.
Beef is a great option for pesto pasta. It’s a rich, flavorful protein that pairs well with the sauce. Plus, it’s packed with healthy fats and protein.
It is not even necessary to brown the beef before adding it to the pesto pasta. I simply season it with some salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning and add it to the pan.
The beef will cook in the sauce, giving it a nice flavor. If you want a more complicated taste, marinate the beef in pesto-based sauce before grilling it.
This will give the beef a boost of flavor that will really complement the pasta.
What they don’t tell you about pork is that it’s actually very versatile. It pairs well with a variety of flavors and can be cooked in many different ways.
It’s a hearty, high-protein meal that goes well with the pesto. Plus, it’s chock-full of healthy nutrients for the body.
Whenever you are making pork, it’s important to cook it until it’s slightly pink in the center. This will ensure that it’s cooked through but still juicy.
If you want to take it to another level, try marinating the pork in a pesto-based sauce before cooking it. This will add a lot of taste to the meat, which will go well with the pasta.
An alternative to beef is ground beef. It’s a cheaper option that still has a lot of flavor. Plus, it’s packed with healthy fats and protein.
You have no idea how much flavor ground beef can add to a dish until you’ve tried it. The beef pairs well with the pesto sauce and gives the pasta a nice flavor.
One thing I always say is that when you’re cooking ground beef, it’s important to anticipate the amount of fat that will be rendered. This can make or break a dish.
If you want to avoid the fat, you can always substitute ground turkey for the beef. It’s a leaner option that still has a lot of flavor.
Lamb metaphorically means “the other white meat” because it’s just as versatile as pork. It pairs well with a variety of flavors and can be cooked in many different ways.
The pesto sauce complements the lamb well, as it is a hearty and flavorful protein. It’s also high in omega-rich fats and protein.
The idiom “as gentle as a lamb” goes a long way to describe how gentle it is on your tongue. It’s a delicate, flavorful protein that pairs well with the pesto sauce.
If you ever find yourself in a pinch and need to make a quick meal, tuna is always a great option. It’s a versatile protein that can be cooked in many different ways.
Tuna is a rich, flavorful protein that pairs well with the pesto sauce. Plus, it’s packed with healthy fats and protein.
One of my favorite things about tuna is that it’s so versatile. You can cook it in a pan, bake it, or even grill it.
No matter how you cook it, tuna is a great option for pesto pasta.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What vegetable goes with pesto pasta?
There are a few vegetables that go well with pesto pasta. I would suggest adding zucchini, peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes, summer squash or even mushrooms. These vegetables will add a touch of sweetness to the dish and complement the pesto sauce.
How to add flavor to pesto pasta?
I would suggest adding some basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese or even a squeeze of lemon to your pesto pasta. These ingredients will add a boost of flavor to the dish and really complement the pesto sauce.
You can also add some crushed red pepper flakes if you like a little bit of heat. Lastly, I would suggest adding some chopped chicken or shrimp to really make this dish a complete meal.
What is the best pasta for pesto?
The best pasta for pesto is a short, sturdy pasta like rigatoni, penne or even shells. These types of pasta will hold up well to the pesto sauce and not get overpowered by the flavors. I would also suggest using top-notch pasta that is made with durum wheat semolina. This type of pasta will have a nice bite and be less likely to turn mushy.
What is the best cheese for pesto pasta?
Parmesan, in my opinion, is the best choice for pesto pasta. It has a nutty, salty flavor that pairs well with the pesto sauce. You can also use Pecorino Romano or even a sheep’s milk cheese. If you are looking for a vegan option, I would suggest using nutritional yeast. This ingredient will add a cheesy flavor to the dish without the use of dairy.
What pesto pasta recipes can I try?
You can try any of the following:
- Beef Pesto Pasta with Mushrooms,
- Ground Beef Skillet Pasta with Pesto and Ricotta
- Pesto Pasta Bolognese
- Tilapia Pesto Pasta
- Lamb Pesto Pasta with Feta Cheese
- Pork Pesto Pasta Salad
- Creamy Pesto Fusilli with Beef
- Pesto Cod Pasta Salad
- Easy Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe
- Salmon Pesto Pasta
- Pesto Spaghetti & Meatballs
- Strip Steak with Pesto Pasta
- Halibut Pesto Pasta
- Salmon Pesto Pasta Bake
From the foregoing, it is easy to see that there are many different meat pairing options for pesto pasta. And each one has its own unique flavor and texture that pairs well with the sauce.
As for my friend, she did a great job choosing the protein. Her choice was grilled chicken, which is a classic pairing for pesto pasta. The two go together like peanut butter and jelly. The chicken adds a nice, smokey flavor to the dish that complements the pesto perfectly. Plus, the chicken helps to round out the meal and make it more filling.
I hope this article has helped you to understand what meat goes with pesto pasta. And I hope it has also given you some ideas on how to pair different types of meat with this delicious dish.