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RECIPE | Homemade Walnut Pesto

homemade walnut pesto ingredients

Basil harvest, means homemade pesto time!

This year, we decided to plant a little urban garden on our skyscraper balcony.  We have flourishing basil, parsley and dill.  Unfortunately, the cilantro died a frightful death.  It was not a fan of these Italian fingertips.  I should have had my Puerto Rican friend Irmaliz nurture that little plant! Better luck next time.

So, our flourishing basil quickly turned into a jungle tree, so we need to make pesto, stat!

The Meal: Homemade walnut pesto over thin spaghetti, topped with shaved parmigiano, served with a savory Malbec wine

The Details: ever notice how expensive pine nuts can be? Ever realize how restaurants substitute walnut for pine nuts and we all think it’s to make it “fancier”?  Well, it might be that, but it might also be because walnuts are cheaper and they go a lot further. Walnut, basil, parmigiano blended in a food processor, streamed in with olive oil and salt/pepper to taste

The Verdict

  • 4 stars
  • For our first basil harvest of the year, it turned out great.
  • Would You Eat It Again?: yes, for sure. It’s the perfect quick meal. Plus pesto is easy to freeze and defrost for a weeknight meal when you don’t feel like cooking.
  • What Would You Change?: I think I went a little crazy on the garlic this time, so next time I’d pay attention to the number of cloves I was throwing in the food processor

Our “Mangia Memoir” (what we’ll remember)

It’s kind of an awesome feeling when you sit down to eat and realize that the tasty meal you are about to enjoy has come from the fruits of your labor.  One Saturday, on the 11th floor of our skyscraper, we got our hands dirty and planted these basil seeds, then watched them grow into this monster of a plant that is now feeding our family.  I think it made it taste that much better :)

The Recipe

  • 1 cup toasted walnuts (helps get the oil out and more flavorful)
  • 2-3 cups of packed basil (if you wash it, let it dry on some paper towels before putting into the food processor)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup or so of extra virgin olive oil (I usually eye-ball this based on the texture I want. Some people like their basil chunky and others smooth)
  • 1/2  cup or so of parmigiano reggiano cheese (this can also be to taste, but keep in mind that the cheese changes the texture as well)
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • Secret Ingredient (Optional) – couple flecks of lemon zest and juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon.  It can really brighten up the flavor and be a nice unexpected twist
  • Blend walnuts, basil and garlic in food processor. Add cheese and blend.  Stream in olive oil while blending until desired consistency is achieved.  Salt/pepper to taste.  If adding lemon zest, include in the initial blend and juice at the end.

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