Baked potatoes' versatility is often underestimated. An epitome of simplicity, this dish requires only a few pantry staples. Yet what comes out of the oven is nothing short of magical — perfectly golden, creamy, and steaming with subtle flavors that still leave room for improvements and experimentation. One such way to elevate the classic baked potatoes and make them more exciting is with the use of pesto sauce.
This sauce strikes the perfect balance between different and familiar, just enough to give the dish an unexpected twist while still staying true to its humble nature. Made with fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil, pesto offers a uniquely bright mixture of nutty, herby, and garlicky notes. The cheese's sharp tanginess infuses the potatoes' mild, sweet taste with a subtly rustic undertone. When accompanying the potatoes, it gives the dish a spectacular flavor depth and enticing nuances that make every bite unforgettable. Plus, with a smooth and slightly thick texture, it enhances the potatoes' creamy consistency and creates a much more luscious mouthfeel.
Read more: 12 Ways To Use Up Leftover Mashed Potatoes
One Sauce, Endless Possibilities For Flavor Extraordinaire
There are several ways to incorporate pesto into baked potatoes. The easiest one is to add a generous amount on top of the baked potatoes, much like you would with sour cream or any other sauces. Alternatively, you can brush or drizzle the sauce onto the potatoes before baking for a more immersive taste. Since the sauce is already packed with flavors, you can keep it simple with the seasonings. A pinch of salt and pepper should be enough.
Another fun method to try is scooping out the flesh and mixing it with the sauce and any additional fillings like bacon bits, pepperoni, vegetables, spices, eggs, etc. Then stuff it back into the skin, grate some cheese over the top, and let the oven work its magic. You'll end up having some golden potatoes overflowing with melted cheese and bursting with scrumptious flavors — a treat for both the eyes and the taste buds.
Of course, the pesto sauce itself is also quite the chameleon. You can add certain leafy greens, such as spinach, arugula, kale, etc., for an extra touch of earthiness. Feel free to swap pine nuts with other varieties like walnuts, pecans, cashews, hazelnuts, and more. If you're feeling bold, try pesto alla calabrese — a hearty, vibrant red version of pesto featuring almonds and cherry tomatoes.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.