Pesto is traditionally made with pine nuts, but those can be hard to find and they are not cheap! When I can’t find a good deal on pine nuts, I opt for walnuts instead. I like the light, nutty flavor walnuts give to pesto. If you’ve never tried your hand at making your own, you must! It’s shockingly easy. I remember after I made my very first batch of pesto I thought, ‘That’s it? Where have I been?’
A Little History
Genoa is the capital city of Liguria, Italy, a region in Northern Italy and the home of pesto. Pesto comes from the Genoese word pestâ, which means to pound or crush and is fitting because it is traditionally made using a mortar and pestle. In the U.S. we have come to know pesto as a green sauce made from the basil plant, but it can mean any herbs mixed with other ingredients, pounded together and used as a pasta sauce. In some regions of Italy like Sicily, tomatoes are used in their signature pesto dishes. The recipe below most resembles pesto alla genovese, the pesto found in Genoa, Italy. The only difference is walnuts are used instead of pine nuts for cost’s sake. But, feel free to use pine nuts if you have them!
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup parmesan (Raw is best if you can get a hold of it, better for digestion + nutrients! Trader Joe’s has a great raw Pecorino Romano triangle block that is great and can be used in place of parmesan.)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp. sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper
I use my food processor for this recipe over a mortar and pestle (mine is too small). You can also use a high powered blender like Blendtec, their Twister Jar is great for pesto. Whatever device you use, it is easy to make! Just thrown in everything but the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pulse basil, garlic and cheese several times until coarsely chopped. Then, as your processor is going, slowly add in the olive oil from the top. Add in your salt and process until you get the consistency you want. I like mine smooth with small bits as you can see in the photo. Crack some pepper, pulse a couple of times and you’re done!
You can store your pesto in the fridge for up to a week. Just place the pesto in a jar, add a bit of olive oil to the top and secure. You can do this same method and freeze it as well. I do this in the summertime when basil is coming out of my garden to store up for Winter. ‘Cause who wants a winter with no pesto? I almost always double the batch below, pesto goes fast in our house. We spread it on our sandwiches, gf pasta, chicken, salmon, salads, I make pesto salad dressing out of it, etc. Enjoy!
Items That Can Be Used for Pesto
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