Homemade basil walnut pesto is a tasty way to use up all that garden basil. This versatile sauce can be used for pasta, garlic bread, a dip or spread, and so much more.
The basil is going crazy in my garden, and since fall is just around the corner, I’m trying to use up as much of my basil as possible before the frost comes.
An easy way to use a lot of basil is by making homemade pesto with walnuts.
Why do I use walnuts? Great question! So glad you asked. I like making this pesto recipe with walnuts, because I always have walnuts on hand and pine nuts are expensive and sometimes difficult to source.
So this recipe was born and is an absolutely delicious way to take the flavor up a notch on dishes.
Use it as a pizza sauce, add it to mashed potatoes, bake salmon brushed with pesto, or just dip your homemade crusty sourdough bread. Yum! Tons of delicious flavor and depth will be added to your dishes.
It also stores really well! Freeze it in ice cube trays so you can enjoy fresh basil in the dead of winter.
- For more flavor, you can roast the walnuts before chopping. Heat walnuts in a skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring constantly.
- Substitute the walnuts with almonds or pecans.
- If you aren’t a huge garlic fan, you can roast the garlic first to give a smooth caramelized taste.
- You can “seal” the pesto by pouring a little oil on top after you have transferred it to your storage dish. This will help prevent browning when stored in the refrigerator. Let’s avoid brown pesto, if possible.
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Can walnuts be substituted for pine nuts in pesto?
Yes. And many other types of nuts. See below for other nut substitutes.
Why is my walnut pesto bitter?
The most likely culprit of bitter tasting pesto is over processing in the food processor. Olive oil contains polyphenols which can become bitter tasting once agitated enough. To fix this conundrum, add a little lemon juice. The acid helps balance out the bitter.
What nuts work best in pesto?
Pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, or pretty much any nut will work in pesto.
Can I make a nut free pesto?
Yes. Substitute with sunflower seeds or pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for a nut-free option.
Basil – Fresh
Parmesan – Preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
Walnuts – Almonds, pistachios, macadamia nuts will also work.
Garlic cloves – We love garlic around these parts, but if you like a more mellow flavor, you can add fewer cloves or roast the garlic before adding it to the food processor.
Tools you may need:
Food processor or blender
Measuring cup and spoons
How To Make Basil Walnut Pesto:
Add the basil, parmesan, walnuts, garlic and salt to a food processor.
Pulse to combine.
Slowly drizzle the olive oil in while processing. Be sure not to run the food processor too long or else it can cause the pesto to become bitter.
Store in an air-tight container in the fridge. Pour the pesto into the container, then add a little olive oil to the top to help “seal” in the sauce. This protects the pesto from oxidation so it doesn’t turn a gross brown color.
For longer term storage: freeze in ice cube trays. Once frozen, pop out the pesto cubes and store in a ziplock bag. This gives you perfect one tablespoon portions when you just need a few for a recipe.
Creative ways to use pesto:
- Pizza sauce: skip the tomato sauce and just use pesto! Try this Sourdough Pizza with Pesto and Cream Sauce.
- Use it as a dip for veggies or bread.
- Spread on sandwiches as a condiment.
- Mix into mashed potatoes. Best mashed potatoes ever.
- Pour over salmon and bake.
- Marinate chicken breasts and grill or pan fry. You could also bake them.
- Use it as pasta sauce over homemade pasta or gnocchi.
- Extra flavorful layer in a classic lasagna.
- Add it to eggs or a quiche.
- Spread it on bread, top with cheese, then bake until melted for the most delicious garlic bread.
- Sourdough pesto herb rolls. Use my sourdough herb and cheese rolls recipe, and instead of filling it with butter and fresh herbs, use pesto.
Substitute some of the basil with parsley, spinach, or even carrot tops. When you grow carrots, you will have a lot of carrot tops. Don’t throw them away! They are delicious and versatile. They have a similar flavor to parsley with a carrot hint.
Add some avocado to make a creamy version full of healthy fats.
Add diced tomato for freshness and texture!
Find More Delicious Sauces And Condiments:
- Easy Homemade Herb Butter
- Kefir Ranch Dressing Recipe
- Best Cranberry Sauce Recipe
- Fermented Hot Sauce
- Homemade Fermented Ketchup
If you try this recipe and love it, I would love if you gave it 5 stars! Thank you! Tag me on Instagram @farmhouseonboone.
- 2 cups packed basil
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Add the basil, grated parmesan, walnuts, garlic and salt to a food processer.
- Pulse to combine.
- Slowly drizzle the olive oil in while processing. Be careful not to over process.
- Store in the fridge.
For more flavor, you can roast the walnuts before chopping. Heat walnuts in a skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring constantly.
Substitute the walnuts with almonds, pecans, or even seeds like pumpkin or sunflower.
You can “seal” the pesto by pouring a little oil on top after you have transferred it to your storage dish. This will help prevent browning when stored in the refrigerator. Let's avoid brown pesto, if possible.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 160Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 130mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 2g