The Spicy Ingredient Bobby Flay Uses To Level Up Pesto Eggs

Pesto eggs have become a viral sensation in recent years, effortlessly crossing over from social media to our kitchens. To make the dish extra special, it's always worth the effort to make your own basic pesto. But to really take it to the next level, in terms of flavor, Bobby Flay has a way to totally transform the breakfast and brunch favorite.

A standard pesto centers around aromatic basil, with other ingredients such as salty parmesan, punchy garlic, olive oil, and creamy pine nuts adding to the taste and texture. But Flay's version is quite different. The chef eschews the basil, instead incorporating fresh parsley as his herb of choice. And, since it wouldn't be a typical Flay recipe without an injection of heat, he also adds jalapeño peppers.

The result is a much bolder, spicier, and robustly flavored pesto that pairs perfectly with softly scrambled eggs. And while Flay often adds crème fraîche to scrambled eggs to make them extra creamy, in this case, to accompany his hot pesto, the eggs have a bit of smoke and spice in the form of chunks of sobrasada cured sausage mixed in.

Flay chars the jalapeños to reduce the burn

It's no secret that Bobby Flay loves adding spice to his dishes. And while jalapeños can vary in heat levels depending on factors such as their age, they are still considered moderately spicy, racking up a score of between 2,500 and 8,000 on the Scoville scale. But if you're worried about the heat from jalapeños dominating the pesto in this recipe, there are tricks to help balance the taste.

Flay likes to roast the peppers before blitzing them in a food processor with the other pesto ingredients. As well as giving them a deliciously charred flavor, which works well in the condiment, cooking jalapeños also reduces how spicy they taste, making them seem more mellow. To get a good balance of both flavor and texture without risking making them mushy, it's worth roasting them quickly for just five minutes at 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Flay also removes the stems and the seeds from the peppers, leaving just the flesh to use in his pesto. This is another useful trick for retaining the flavor, while cutting the spice level of peppers. This is because capsaicin, the element which makes peppers taste hot, is mainly concentrated in the seeds of the chili as well as in its veins and pith.

More ingredients to transform homemade pesto

While Bobby Flay uses hot jalapeños and fresh parsley to boost his pesto, there are plenty of other ingredients that you can use to elevate a homemade version. Try replacing the peppers with citrus for a parsley and lemon pesto that's bright, zingy, and delicious with fish or pasta. Add some fresh mint to a regular pesto for a fragrant freshness that goes great with lamb dishes. Or, switch the traditional basil for wild garlic leaves or ramps for an aromatic seasonal treat.

To boost the color as well as flavor of fresh pesto, try adding ingredients such as sun-dried tomatoes to really ramp up the umami-rich taste. Or go for roasted red bell peppers instead of Flay's spicy jalapeños for a vibrant color but milder taste. Beetroot adds a beautifully rich hue as well as an earthy flavor, or try incorporating salty black olives for a tapenade-like pesto.

To make a pesto recipe vegan-friendly, you could switch to a vegan parmesan alternative or nutritional yeast in place of regular cheese. And for a quick shortcut in a pinch, it's also easy to upgrade store-bought pesto by adding extra ingredients, such as by turning it into a creamy sauce with cream, garlic, and cheese. With so many options, pesto eggs can be more creative than ever.