One of my favorite things about summer cooking is stepping out my back door to pick fresh herbs from my vegetable garden. It always amazes me how the tiny seedlings I impatiently wait for to sprout in May grow into more herbs than I can possibly use up in August.
As you can see, my basil plants are two feet tall, which means it’s time to make pesto! (You can also see they need some attention — it’s best to pinch the flowers off to keep the leaves growing.)
This is a classic recipe for Italian basil pesto. The only difference is that I use walnuts instead of more traditional pine nuts. This is because in recent years an increasing number of people (including myself) have fallen prey to a bizarre problem with pine nuts called Pine Mouth Syndrome — a bitter, metallic taste in the mouth that develops a day or two after eating pine nuts. It can last for weeks and make eating or drinking anything very unpleasant. Several food writers have written about it, and since it also happened to me, I thought it was worth mentioning. There is some evidence that the suspect nuts come from China but no one knows for sure. In any case, I’ve sworn off pine nuts for a while.
To begin, combine the walnuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
Add the basil leaves, salt and pepper.
Process until finely chopped.
Then, with the food processor running, add the olive oil through the feed tube in a steady stream. Be sure to use good quality olive oil; it makes a big difference.
Add the Parmesan cheese and process again.
That’s your pesto! Try it on pasta, potatoes, grilled meats, sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, or vegetable soup (coming soon!).
My Recipe Videos
Basil Walnut Pesto
- 2 cups gently packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, best quality such as Lucini or Colavita
- Place the walnuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until coarsely chopped, about 10 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper and process until mixture resembles a paste, about 1 minute. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly blended. Add the Parmesan and process a minute more. Use pesto immediately or store in a tightly sealed jar or air-tight plastic container, covered with a thin layer of olive oil (this seals out the air and prevents the pesto from oxidizing, which would turn it an ugly brown color). It will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.
- Freezer-Friendly Instructions: Pesto can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 6 months. You can also divide your prepared pesto into the compartments of an ice cube tray and freeze. Once it’s frozen, remove the pesto cubes from the tray and put a sealable plastic bag or airtight container. You can add the defrosted pesto cubes to soups, pasta dishes, eggs, sandwiches, and potatoes.
- Serving size: 2 Tbsp.
- Calories: 159
- Fat: 17 g
- Saturated fat: 3 g
- Carbohydrates: 1 g
- Sugar: 0 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Protein: 3 g
- Sodium: 161 mg
- Cholesterol: 4 mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.