Basil is abundant right now, so I thought I would share my go-to recipe to use up all that basil — this basil walnut pesto. Sadly, I have not been using basil from my own garden, because it was completely overtaken by our thriving tomato plants. Tomatoes: 1, basil: 0. Being the novice, over-eager gardeners we are, we tried to cram way too many plants into one raised bed. Next year will be different, but for the rest of the summer, I will have to buy our basil.
I’ve been buying basil at the farmer’s market every week. It comes in a very generous clump, and I use it with abandon. I make this basil walnut pesto at least once a week. This is a straightforward recipe, with a slight departure from classic pesto in that it uses walnuts. I like walnuts in pesto because I always have them on hand, they’re cheaper than pine nuts and they have a delicious nutty flavor when toasted.
Pesto Tip: As much as I would love to make pesto in a giant mortar and pestle as I imagine Italian grandmothers do, I stick to my food processor. It makes quick work of chopping up all that basil. The entire process takes about 3 minutes, which, conveniently, is about all the uninterrupted time I have these days when cooking for two small needy little humans. A trick to making food processed pesto seem more rustic is to reserve some of the walnuts and basil to add after you have drizzled in the olive oil. Toss the reserve in, give the pesto a few quick pulses, and you add back a bit of the texture and vibrancy that is lost as the food processor runs to incorporate the olive oil.
Now what to do with this pesto? The possibilities are endless. I mix it with pasta, cheese and a little pasta cooking water for a quick weeknight dinner. I spread it on sandwiches, scramble it with eggs, spoon it over salmon, mash it with avocado for Max or put a big dollop on a salad or grain bowl for lunch. Mealtime is more delicious with a jar of pesto in the fridge.
Enjoy! Xo Maggie
P.s. for another pesto recipe when basil is out of season, try this Kale Pesto with Hemp + Pumpkin Seeds.Print
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 3 cups basil leaves, tightly packed
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
- Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon (1 tsp of zest; 1 tbsp juice)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- Pinch pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Optional: Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat or in a 350° oven until slightly browned and fragrant. This only takes a few minutes and really enhances the nutty flavor. Cool slightly.
- To the bowl of a food processor (or blender), add the walnuts, basil, garlic, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper. Reserve a small handful of basil and walnuts to incorporate after adding the olive oil (optional). Pulse until coarsely ground, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
- With the food processor running, gradually add in the olive oil until fully incorporated, again scraping down the sides as needed. Add the reserved walnuts and basil and pulse a few times until well combined but still retaining a bit of the texture.
- Use immediately or transfer to a jar to store in the fridge, pouring a thin layer of olive oil on top to prevent pesto from oxidizing (turning brown). Pesto also freezes really well.