Basil Walnut Pesto uses fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts & olive oil to create a rich, zesty and luxuriously earthy sauce that will have you pining for more! Please excuse the pun!
Until recently I despised pesto. All the versions I had tried in the past were too tart, too earthy and a little slimy. The key it turns out is using the freshest basil you can get your hands on!
This year Lou built me a herb garden and my basil has been growing like weed. Maybe because it is a sort of weed but none the less I knew I had to use it up before it took over the rest of the garden.
Pesto uses quite a bit of the stuff and I know it is a popular dressing for pasta, meats and sandwiches that many of my readers would like so I decided to give pesto another try.
This recipe is not my own. I have a huge Bon Appetit cookbook from 2006 I have and I found a pesto recipe inside and got to work. Now I not only use it on pasta but on my meats. It is so simple and fancy at the same time!
Actually there really isn’t much work to it which was another reason I was so included to make this homemade pesto recipe with my basil bonanza growing in my backyard.
Ingredients you will need:
Fresh Basil – As fresh as you can find it. Look for leaves that are bright green with little to know dark spots or bruising. You will need about 3 cups packed.
Pine Nuts – These nuts are actually one of the most expensive nuts in the world because they are so hard to harvest from their encasements. They are grown from the pinyon pine trees and are typically grown in the US. But they have a delicious buttery slightly sweet flavour with a high-fat content that is absolutely worth every penny. You only need 1/3 cup. Pine Nuts can be found at many bulk food stores.
Walnuts – Walnuts add a great earthy tartness to this pesto. You will need 3 tablespoons.
Garlic – I dare you to name an Italian based dish that doesn’t include garlic. 2 large cloves will do.
Olive Oil – The liquid gold that is the backbone to this sauce. You will need 3/4 cup.
Parmesan Cheese – Adds a tangy richness to this recipe along with a slight creaminess. One cup of grated parmesan is needed.
How To Make pesto:
Can this recipe be made vegan?
Yes, there are a number of vegan substitutes on the market for parmesan cheese that are vegan. Earth Island carries a brand that I know some of my vegan friends enjoy and is a straight swap for authentic parm.
What do you serve basil walnut pesto with?
Pesto is amazing on a number of dishes the possibilities are seemingly endless but here are some of the most popular uses:
- On pasta … in these pictures, I used about a 1/2 a cup over a big bowl of fresh pappardelle pasta and it was bellisimo!
- Sandwich spread… add some chicken, mozzarella, rapini or arugula on a nice crusty bread and spread the bread with some pesto!
- Perfect for cooking fish, shrimp or chicken. Just toss with the pesto and bake or barbecue. Save a little extra pesto on the side (not the one coating the protein or you will get sick) and baste the chicken, fish or shrimp once again with a little pesto to give you dish a pop of colour and that lovely fresh basil aroma.
how long will fresh pesto last?
Fresh pesto will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
can you freeze pesto?
Yes, you can for up to 9 months! So make some while basil is in season and enjoy it all year. The best way to freeze pesto is to spoon the fresh pesto into an ice cube tray and freeze. Then pop the cubes out and store in a freezer bag thawing and using whenever you need it.
Do you need to heat pesto up before using it?
No, actually pesto is best uncooked. When cooking the basil cooks as well so you lose some of the basil aroma and flavour. That is why I always suggest putting a little pesto on the side and then giving your meats or seafood a little basting before serving.
Basil Walnut Pesto
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- 3 cups basil leaves (about 6 oz) firmly packed; washed
- 3/4 cups olive oil divided
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 3 tbsp walnuts
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- In a blender add the basil, pine nuts, walnuts, garlic and a 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Pulse until finely chopped.
- Add the parmesan cheese and then continue blending while slowly adding the remaining olive oil from the top of the blender. Continue blending until smooth and creamy looking. Serve or freeze for later.