Can You Mix Pesto and Tomato Sauce?

Can You Mix Pesto and Tomato Sauce?

Pesto and tomato sauce – two quintessential Italian sauces that each pack a flavorful punch. But what happens when you combine these two powerhouse ingredients? Will their distinctive tastes complement each other or clash catastrophically? Is there potential for a delicious fusion or an unavoidable disaster? This contentious culinary question has stimulated spirited debate among home cooks and chefs alike. While pesto and tomato sauce can each stand strongly on their own, exploring whether they can be successfully mixed opens up enticing possibilities for new taste sensations. But the proof is in the pasta – let’s dig in and find out!

Quick Summary

While combining pesto and tomato sauce may seem counterintuitive, these two powerfully flavored sauces complement each other beautifully. The basil and garlic notes of pesto pair nicely with the acidity and sweetness of tomato sauce. Just be careful not to use too much pesto, as its strong taste can overwhelm the tomato. For best results, mix about 1/4 cup pesto with 1 cup of tomato sauce – this allows the flavors to mingle without one overpowering the other. The pesto adds herbal notes, while the tomato provides richness and texture. So don’t be afraid to experiment with this unexpected but delicious sauce combo!

Quick Summary

Can You Mix Pesto and Tomato Sauce?

Blending Basil and Tomato: The Surprising Deliciousness of Pesto & Tomato Sauce

At first glance, pesto and tomato sauce seem an unlikely pair. But these assertive Italian sauces can combine beautifully to make meals more flavorful and exciting.

Why Mix Pesto and Tomato Sauce

What’s the appeal of blending these two bold condiments?

Adds Depth and Complexity

Alone, pesto and tomato sauce pack serious flavor. But together, they form new taste dimensions. Pesto contributes nutty richness and herbal notes, while tomato provides sweetness and acidity. The result is a more nuanced, symphonic eating experience.

Balance of Flavors

When used in proper ratios, pesto can mellow tomato sauce’s sharpness, while the tomato tames pesto’s aggressive garlic and basil. This harmonizes the ingredients into a perfectly integrated sauce.

Quick, Delicious Meals

With quality jarred pesto and canned tomato sauce, pesto tomato dishes can be whipped up in minutes. That means restaurant-worthy Italian food in a flash!

Delectable Ways to Enjoy Pesto Tomato

Here are some tasty options for savoring pesto and tomato sauce:

Pesto Tomato Pasta

This dynamic duo coats noodles in herbaceous, garlicky flavor balanced by sweet, acidic tomatoes. Basil pesto marries especially well with tomato sauce.

Pesto Pizza

Spiking pizza sauce with pesto takes homemade or store-bought pizza up a notch. The complexity shines through while letting the crust take center stage.

Pesto Tomato Chicken Parm

I was breading chicken in pesto before baking it with tomato sauce, which amps up the flavor. The pesto provides richness to the crispy breading, while the tomato sauce delivers fresh acidity as the chicken bakes.

Pesto Tomato Baked Fish

Salmon, cod, halibut, or other mild fish are excellent baked with a vibrant pesto tomato sauce. The tomatoes cut the pesto’s oiliness beautifully.

Pesto Tomato Shrimp

Sauteing shrimp in a pesto tomato blend gives you fabulous flavor fast. The pesto adds herbaceous notes while the tomato provides the perfect juicy bite to plump shrimp.

Pesto Tomato Veggies

Tossing vegetables with pesto tomato sauce before roasting maximizes their natural sweetness. Eggplant, zucchini, carrots, and more are delicious and prepared this way.

Can You Mix Pesto and Tomato Sauce?

Tips for Mixing Pesto and Tomato

Ready to try this unexpected pairing? Here are some tips:

Use Restrained Ratios

Resist adding too much pesto, or it will overpower. Try ratios like:

  • 1/4 cup pesto to 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons pesto per can of crushed tomatoes

Add Pesto Gradually

Add just 1-2 tablespoons pesto at first, tasting and adjusting until the flavor balance tastes right.

Avoid Extra Oil

Skip adding oil, as both sauces already contain it. Too much oil means a greasy, heavy sauce.

With the right combo, pesto and tomato create a flavor symphony! This unlikely duo proves that artfully blended, even assertive ingredients can strike a delicious balance.

How to Mix Pesto and Tomato Sauce

Blending Basil and Tomato: A Simple Process for Mixing Pesto and Tomato Sauce

Bringing pesto and tomato sauce together may seem unlikely, but these assertive Italian sauces can complement each other wonderfully. You can make magic in your kitchen with just a few easy steps.

Getting Started

Mixing up a pesto tomato sauce is simple. You likely have the main ingredients on hand.

  • Pesto sauce – homemade or quality jarred basil pesto
  • Tomato sauce – canned crushed, diced, or sauce, or your own homemade
  • Herbs, spices, Parmesan (optional)

The Process

Follow this easy process for pesto tomato sauce success:

Add Pesto Gradually

Start with just 1-2 tbsp pesto per 16-24 oz tomato sauce. Pesto is strongly flavored, so add it slowly.

Stir Thoroughly

Use a spoon or whisk to distribute the pesto throughout the tomato sauce evenly.

How to Mix Pesto and Tomato Sauce

Taste and Adjust

Sample the blend. If desired, gradually add more pesto, 1 tbsp at a time, until the flavor balance tastes great to you.

Season (Optional)

Add a pinch of dried basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, or Parmesan for extra flavor. Taste again and add salt/pepper if needed.

Simmer Briefly

For depth of flavor, you can lightly simmer the sauce for 5-10 minutes. But make sure to overcook, or the sauce can become bitter.

Use Immediately or Refrigerate

Enjoy your pesto tomato sauce right away, tossed with hot pasta or on pizza. Or store leftovers covered in the fridge for 3-4 days. The flavors will continue to develop.

Handy Mixing Tips

Follow these tips for pesto tomato success:

  • Use 1/4 cup pesto to 1 cup tomato sauce as a general guide. Alter amounts to suit your tastes.
  • Avoid extra olive oil since both sauces contain it already.
  • Consider shortcuts like jarred pesto and canned tomato sauce for quick meals.
  • Skip the dairy-like cream or butter that can mute the bright flavors.

With a few simple steps, you can blend pesto and tomato sauce into a fast, flavorful fusion for endless dishes!

How to Mix Pesto and Tomato Sauce


Should you add pesto to jarred tomato sauce?

Absolutely! Adding a bit of pesto is a great way to inject some life into lackluster jarred tomato sauce. The fresh basil and garlic can help brighten and balance canned tomato sauce that may be overly sweet or acidic. Start by adding about 1-2 tablespoons pesto per 16-24 ounces jarred tomato sauce and taste, adding more pesto gradually if desired. The pesto’s richness can also help smooth out some jarred sauces’ metallic taste. Just do what is necessary, as you still want the tomato flavor to come through.

What about mixing pesto into canned diced or crushed tomatoes?

Using pesto to spice up canned diced or crushed tomatoes is another excellent idea. The tomatoes will benefit from the herbal flavor boost while retaining their fresh texture. Add 2-3 tablespoons pesto to a 28 oz can of diced or crushed tomatoes for a quick simmered sauce. Simmer gently for 10-15 minutes to blend the flavors. For a chunkier sauce, stir in 1-2 tablespoons pesto per can of tomatoes just until combined, adding more to taste. The basil-garlic pesto nicely offsets the metallic taste canned tomatoes can have. Let this sauce cling to hot pasta, or use it as a base for pizza or lasagne.

Should you add tomato sauce to the pesto?

In most cases, it’s better to add a smaller amount of pesto to tomato sauce rather than vice versa. Because pesto has such a pronounced garlicky flavor, even a little bit can overwhelm milder tomato sauce. Start with just 1-2 tablespoons tomato sauce per 1/2 cup pesto. The tomato flavor adds a nice acidity to balance the pesto’s richness. But take care to keep the pesto’s consistency manageable. You can also stir a spoonful or two of pesto into simmered tomato sauce right at the end to gently boost the basil flavor. Just do it sparingly, or the pesto will dominate the dish.

What about mixing jarred pesto and tomato sauce?

You can use quality store-bought pesto instead of homemade and mix it with jarred tomato sauce for convenience. This allows you to quickly whip up a more complex, restaurant-worthy sauce without much effort. Go with reputable brands like Buitoni, Classico, or Ciao Bella for the best results. Always add pesto gradually to tomato sauce until the desired flavor is reached, tasting as you go. An ideal ratio is usually 1-2 tablespoons of pesto per cup of tomato sauce. The pesto infusion helps liven up tired jarred tomato sauce.

Should you add extra virgin olive oil when mixing pesto and tomato sauce?

There’s generally no need to add extra olive oil when combining pesto and tomato sauce. Pesto is already rich with olive oil, and tomato sauce also contains some. Adding more could make the sauce overly oily and heavy. However, if you want to thin out a pesto-tomato sauce that seems too thick, you can drizzle in small amounts of extra virgin olive oil while mixing to adjust the consistency. Just do so sparingly, as too much oil prevents the sauce from clinging to the pasta properly.

What about adding cream or butter to pesto-tomato sauce?

Though you can add a touch of cream or butter to pesto alone for a silky texture, it’s best to avoid adding dairy when mixing pesto with tomato sauce. The natural creaminess from the pesto’s oil and cheese provides enough richness. Too much cream or butter can mute the vibrant herbal flavors. If you want a smooth, mellow sauce, you’re better off just increasing the pesto-to-tomato ratio rather than adding cream. Butter can be overpowering and separate from the watery tomatoes. Allow the pesto to provide the right amount of richness on its own when blended with tomato sauce.

Related Video: Pesto Pasta


When it comes to mixing pesto and tomato sauce, the proof is certainly in the pasta. While some may view combining these two assertive Italian sauces as too bold of a move, the end result can be a beautifully balanced blend of flavors. The key is restraint – pesto’s robust garlic and basil can easily dominate, so it must be used sparingly to allow the tomato’s brightness and acidity to shine through. Approach this sauce fusion with an open mind and a willingness to adjust until you find your perfect pesto-to-tomato ratio. With a little creativity and a few test runs, you may discover a new favorite that brings out the best of both worlds. So be brave, try this unexpected pairing, and prepare to be pleasantly surprised!

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