How Michael Symon Puts His Own Spin On The Viral Pesto Egg Recipe

Eggs have been the star of quite a few viral food trends, most of which have been met with uncontested enthusiasm, but chef Michael Symon had some reservations about #PestoEggs. The simple recipe that engulfed the internet for a moment in time suggested that you scoop a dollop of pesto into a pan heated on the stovetop, allow it to melt across its surface, then crack eggs directly on top to cook in the verdant spread. Symon denounced this technique on the belief that cooking pesto is a kind of culinary faux pas, asserting that pesto should only be incorporated into recipes as a finishing sauce. To this point, Symon devised and shared his own approach to the trend of combining eggs and pesto into a quick meal.

Symon skips the process of slathering pesto onto a hot pan, opting for a more traditional practice of greasing it with butter. The popular Italian spread comes into play later on — once Symon has cooked his scrambled eggs nearly to completion, he takes the pan off the stove and stirs in a few spoonfuls of pesto.

Why wait to add pesto to your eggs

There is no hard and fast rule that you can't cook pesto, but there is some logic that backs up why Michael Symon is adamantly opposed to the idea. The primary reason is that pesto is made with fresh basil leaves, which are fragile and will quickly degrade when subjected to heat. If you're making pesto pasta, for example, the sauce only comes into contact with heat when it is tossed with the warm noodles after it has finished cooking. With just a little heat, the core ingredient of pesto adds a pop of bright herbaceous flavor, but when overheated, the aroma and taste of basil quickly fade.

Another important factor is the maintenance of the leaves' alluring emerald color. With time and temperature changes, pieces of basil transform from glowing green to dull darker tones. Whether you are making a basic pesto recipe from scratch or purchasing a jar at the store, there are some tricks to preserving pesto's vibrant color — including adding a squeeze of lemon juice to prevent oxidation — but the easiest thing to do is to keep it away from the stove.

How to serve your saucy eggs

Michael Symon serves his pesto scramble over pan-fried toast and a halved avocado, but there are endless ways to adapt this recipe to suit your preferences. Swap out the toast for a bagel or a waffle if you want to stick to classic breakfast foods. For a gluten-free alternative, try multigrain polenta with pesto eggs or serve them with crispy hashbrowns. You can also lean into the Italian inspiration and enjoy this dish as a topping for a plain pizza crust or transform it into a pesto pasta frittata.

If pesto seems too finicky for you, or if you have had your fill of this particular trend, you can also apply it to other spreads and sauces that are less sensitive to the heat and full of flavor in their own unique ways. With other oil-based condiments like romesco or harissa, you have the option to follow Symon's lead or cook everything directly in the pan while also enjoying the heat of the spicier ingredients.