Lemon Pesto Sauce

I tilted my head and let out a “hmmm” of curiosity when I came across Trader Joe’s lemon pesto sauce in the new items section. Traditional pesto, with its rich and salty pine nutty taste, is my favorite type of pasta sauce. I wondered how lemon flavored pesto would taste and if it would live up to my beloved pine nut one. Let’s take a look at Trader Joe’s new lemon pesto sauce.

The details

Price: $3.49

Size: 6.7 oz

Servings: about 3 

Calories per serving: 270

Instructions: Simply stir a few tablespoons with hot pasta and serve with freshly grated cheese.

What are the ingredients in Trader Joe’s lemon pesto sauce?

Sunflower seed oil, lemon, water, grana padano cheese (milk salt, rennet, egg lysozyme), almonds, sugar, lemon zest, salt, lactic acid, natural flavors, vegetable and fruit juice (for color), yeast extract, ground black pepper.

How does Trader Joe’s lemon pesto sauce taste?

Trader Joe’s lemon pesto sauce tastes like a light lemon flavored spread. It’s pleasant on the tongue. 

It’s savory thanks to grana padano cheese and almonds with a tinge of sweetness from the sugar and a bit zesty from the lemon. The taste isn’t nearly as sharp or zesty as I expected. Your mouth won’t be puckering with this sauce.

The texture is surprisingly thick but smooth for a sauce. I had it at room temperature before mixing it in warm pasta. It was soft like a spread, but it didn’t melt or mix into the pasta as easily as I thought it would. 

The sauce didn’t coat the pasta as easily as traditional pesto does. It stayed sort of stuck to the spoon, so I gave the pasta a good mixing and added a tbsp or two of olive oil. Otherwise it would have been too dry. 

Perhaps I needed to warm the lemon pesto sauce a bit. Next time I will reserve pasta water and add a bit of that to wet the pasta.

It also didn’t have any of the grittiness of some traditional pesto sauces. I like feeling the bits of basil leaves, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese when I eat pesto pasta. If you don’t mind a smoother consistency, the lemon version might be right up your alley.

What do you eat with Trader Joe’s lemon pesto sauce?

I ate the lemon pesto sauce with spaghetti topped with shrimp and broccolini. That made for a light tasting dinner, perfect for a warm summer day.

I think the sauce would do well with a different pasta such as bowtie (farfalle). That could be topped with summer vegetables like zucchini, tomato, and corn for a nice summer meal.

It could also be a light topping for some sliced French bread. Add some cucumber slices on top for a nice appetizer.

Final thoughts

Although Trader Joe’s new lemon pesto sauce may not rival the classic pine nut pesto sauce, it offers a delightful and refreshing twist perfect for spring or summer pasta dishes, especially if you like lemons. It’s worth trying at least once to see if it tickles your taste buds.

Rating: 3/5

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