Basil Walnut Pesto
Classic simple basil pesto recipe with fresh basil leaves, walnut, garlic, Parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper.
Pesto is one of my favorite sauces. It is very flavorful with herbal, nutty, garlicky, and cheesy flavor. I do not understand why people buy store-bought pesto when you can make it in your kitchen in just 10 minutes. While store-bought pesto can taste great, there is absolutely nothing compares to the flavor of homemade fresh pesto.
Pesto is a bright green sauce that is originated in Genoa, Italy. The word pesto comes from the Italian word for pounded because pesto was originally made with a mortar and pestle. But you can make pesto in a blender or food processor in your kitchen.
If you have not made basil pesto before, you should try making it from now on. It really only takes a handful of ingredients. Once you have mastered the basic ratio of nuts to herbs to oil, you can easily swap out one or more of these for your own custom pesto.
Traditional Italian pesto is made strictly with basil leaves pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. For this Basil Walnut Pesto recipe, I use walnuts to swap the pine nuts in traditional pesto. Pine nuts are pretty expensive and walnuts are great to keep on the budget.
I believe that you already have some of the ingredients in your pantry, like garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. The remaining ingredients you need to have are basil leaves, walnuts, and Parmesan cheese.
For the best flavor, you will need to use the freshest basil you can find. You can switch out the basil for another handy herb or leafy green, such as parsleys, avocados, and broccoli.
Walnuts are not quite as flavorful as pine nuts, but they are cheaper and give the pesto a nice texture. For extra flavor, toast the walnuts in a frying pan or in the oven. If you do not have pine nuts and walnuts, you can also opt to use other nuts like pecans, almonds, and macadamia nuts, but I like to use walnuts for their natural flavor and good price.
The Parmesan cheese lends a distinctive savory cheesy flavor to the Basil Walnut Pesto. The parmesan cheese should be freshly grated off the block for the best flavor. You can also use the pre-shredded if that is what you have.
Olive oil is the traditional choice, but you can also use a neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed oil. Some people also add some lemon juice for brightening up the flavor and keeping the pesto bright green much longer in the refrigerator.
Basil in pesto can oxidize and easily turn brown. You can prevent this by adding a small layer of olive oil to the jar of pesto or press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the pesto before you put it in the refrigerator. It lasts up to 1 week in the refrigerator, but it can also be frozen for several months.
I recommend freezing pesto in an ice cube tray and then transferring the cubes to a sealed bag once completely frozen. This will make it easier to portion how much you need for a recipe. When you are ready to use the frozen pesto cubes, simply take a few out of the bag and pop them into whatever dish you are making.
Basil Walnut Pesto
Classic simple basil pesto recipe with fresh basil leaves, walnuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper.
- 4 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup roasted walnuts
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
In a food processor or a blender, process walnuts and garlic until coarsely chopped. Add basil leaves and pulse a few times to break the basil.
In a steady stream add olive oil, pulsing until the pesto is thoroughly blended. Add parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper and pulse again until thoroughly blended.
Use pesto immediately or store it in a tightly sealed container. Cover the top with a thin layer of olive oil to prevent it from oxidizing.