Oh, The Pestobilities!

For years, pesto has been a delicious Italian ingredient typically used in unique recipes at upscale restaurants. However, with the growing popularity of food television shows and celebrity chefs, pesto has become more mainstream, appearing on restaurant chain menus and topped on bakery breads and gourmet pizzas.

Pesto is an intensely green and fragrant Italian sauce made from a simple combination of basil, extra virgin olive oil, garlic and pine nuts. There are also red varieties of pesto made with sun dried tomatoes or red bell peppers. Named after the Italian verb "pestare" (which means "to stamp on"), these natural ingredients are traditionally blended together by hand with a mortar and pestle. Luckily, home cooks today can purchase high-quality refrigerated pesto, such as Buitoni®, in local grocery stores.

Although the most common way to enjoy pesto is as a pasta sauce, pesto can easily be added to a variety of everyday meals. Following are some delicious ways to enjoy pesto in your favorite foods:

• Wake up morning routines. Top a breakfast bagel with cream cheese and a dollop of pesto to jump-start an ordinary day with extraordinary flavor.

• Go for the unusual. Skip the butter on popcorn and instead toss in a mixture of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and pesto for a unique Italian twist.

• Escape the ordinary. Jazz up the typical marinara sauce pizza with a spread of pesto and colorful vegetables.

• Entertain with ease. Add a small amount of pesto to sour cream for a quick, easy party dip.

From breakfast to dinner, pesto offers incredible flavor. This recipe, found on Buitoni.com, combines pesto with fresh tomatoes and roasted red peppers-a delicious way to start the morning.

Pesto Omelet

(Makes 2 servings)

4 large eggs, beaten

1 small tomato, seeded and diced

1/4 cup sliced roasted red pepper, drained

2 tablespoons Buitoni® Refrigerated Pesto with Basil

2 tablespoons Buitoni® Refrigerated Freshly Shredded Romano Cheese

Combine eggs and tomato in small bowl; set aside.

Heat greased, large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in egg mixture. Mixture should set immediately at edges. Carefully push cooked portions at edges toward center so uncooked portions can reach hot pan surface, tilting pan and moving cooked portions as necessary. While top is still moist and creamy looking, fill with roasted pepper, pesto and cheese. Reduce heat to low; fold omelet in half. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

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About The Author, Stacey Moore
For more pesto-inspired tips and recipes like this one, visit Buitoni.com.