Trader Joe's Fans Are Divided On Its New Red Pepper And Almond Pesto Sauce

Whoever dreamt up pesto was a genius. Seriously, using just five ingredients, they managed to create a taste bud-tantalizing marvel that adds life to a plethora of dishes. According to La Cucina Italiana, the first recorded recipe for today's familiar version of pesto (Pesto Genovese) starred in an 1863 cookbook by GB Ratto. While no one knows the original creator of this version, a debt of gratitude is owed to Ratto for putting pen to paper. 

If the staggering price of pine nuts has ever scared you away from making your own batch of pesto, the following little-known fact will come as a great relief. Saveur shares that while Ratto's recipe called for pine nuts, a large number of early adaptations replaced them with more affordable walnuts. And the inclusion of walnuts is not the only variation that has occurred over the years. Kitchen Foliage lists versions that replace traditional basil with kale, spinach, parsley, or radish greens and mint. The outlet points to others that use a base of avocado, artichoke, or roasted beets. You can even opt for a garlic scape pesto recipe

Clearly, pesto has taken on a wide array of flavors, textures, and colors, making it an extremely versatile condiment. Now, Trader Joe's has introduced customers to a new take on this traditional sauce with their red pepper and almond variety. The reaction, however, is mixed. 

Customers were shocked by this pesto's calorie count

When Instagram user @traderjoeslist posted a picture of their most recent Trader Joe's find, commenters eagerly shared their thoughts. Holding a jar of the retailer's Organic Red Pepper and Almond Pesto Sauce, the poster described it as "red pepper forward and a bit vinegary," adding that it would likely be better on a sandwich than slathered over pasta. Some thought it warranted a "yum," while another said it tasted like taco seasoning (for her, this was a positive attribute). One respondent likened it to a Balkan dish called ajvar, which she called the "vegan caviar" of the region. Many were upset over the inclusion of seed oils and animal rennet, while the biggest complaint was the whopping 320 calories per serving. 

This isn't Trader Joe's first foray into pesto either. The company's Pesto Alla Genovese has received a rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars on Influenster with people saying it is a pantry staple, has a great balance of flavors, with one adding that it's a little too salty. When TJ's Mushroom and Truffle-Flavored Pesto returned, Instagram comments ranged from "My favorite ... it being back makes me so happy" to a barrage of ways they had used it, including on spaghetti squash, flatbread, and as a pizza sauce. 

If you consider yourself to be a pesto addict, you may enjoy this newest rendition by Trader Joe's. Or not. That decision is best left up to you.