Serves 8 (makes a medium sized jarful)
There are many different kinds of pestos. Some are very traditional with classic Italian ingredients and some are innovative with a healthy bent substituting kale or arugula as the main green. Hints of olive oil, garlic and lemon and a variety of nuts enhance any variation of pesto. This is a very classic Italian basil pesto with the exception of the walnuts, which are a more economical alternative to the expensive toasted pine nuts usually found. The taste is robust and delicious and goes well with pasta or can be used for any other spreading, dipping and filling use you can think of! Let’s get started.
Basil Pesto – Recipe
- 2 ½ cups fresh basil leaves, packed tightly (wash with ice cold water and pat dry)
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted (reduce by half if you want a less nutty flavor)
- 5 cloves, garlic, chopped
- ½ small lemon, juiced
- ½ cup Parmesano-Reggiano or Romano cheese, freshly grated (optional)
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Add walnuts into a food processor or blender and process until just broken into chunks.
- Add basil, garlic, lemon juice and process until desired consistency is reached. I like mine a little coarse, but you can process until completely smooth.
- Add cheese if using and process a few seconds.
- Season with salt and generous amount of pepper and drizzle in olive oil and process for another few seconds until everything is well incorporated.
Remove to a jar and refrigerate until ready to use. The pesto will keep well (with the cheese) for a week. It will keep for a lot longer without the cheese so you can add the cheese in and incorporate prior to serving as well. This makes a nutty, tangy basil pesto that’s great on pasta, baked into breads, spread over baguettes or stuffed into baked chicken breasts.