Five Ingredient Basil Walnut Pesto
Basil is hands down my favorite herb on the planet. I can hardly begin to describe my foodie passion for the herbaceous richness it brings to some of my favorite foods or the lingering smell fresh cut basil leaves on my hands. Ask my husband, a good food made better with basil (or pesto) has rendered me speechless and or brought tears to my eyes on numerous occasions. Basil is that powerful! This seemingly simple leaf goes sooo well as an addition to a breakfast sandwich, as a pizza topping, and in a goes-with-everything-pesto!
In the summer I have several planters in use growing Genovese basil plants so I have months of fresh basil at my fingertips! Genovese basil (also known as sweet basil) grows large grass green leaves that have a touch of shine to them, and is easy to grow from seed or find at your local garden center. I prefer growing my own. Each fall, just as the weather starts turning cold, I make one big final harvest and bring everything inside to make a great big batch of pesto to freeze for the winter.
Unfortunately my frozen pesto doesn’t always last all winter! Once in a while I have to spoil myself during the winter months with some store bought basil. But lets be honest, that $2.99 goes incredibly far with this recipe!
Today I have for you my easy Basil Walnut Pesto. I call it easy because of ‘four.’
- Four ounces of fresh basil (the size container my store sells)
- Four quarter cups of parmesan cheese
- Four quarter cups of walnuts (I prefer walnuts to pine nuts for both texture and cost, almonds also work very well in this recipe)
- Four quarter cups of good EVOO
- Four cloves of garlic (I choose the really big cloves for a super garlicy pesto)
- Optional: Salt to taste
I realize that “Four quarter cups of…” is the same as one cup, but saying the ingredients this way makes it easy for me to remember! It is like a traditional pound cake has one pound each of the basic ingredients!
As always you want to begin by laying out and measuring all of your ingredients. This is important because you don’t want to start your recipe and find out you don’t have enough of something. Today as I was getting my walnuts out, I realized I had less than half of what I needed! Luckily I live less than a mile from the store!
First, wash and dry your basil, no matter if it is store bought or home grown. Lets just be sure regardless that you have a clean start with no extra ‘protein’ as some of the pests are the same color as the basil itself. I like to use my salad spinner ($4 Ikea impulse purchase) to make it a quick dry time. Next you can separate the stems from the leaves. Some stem is OK but too much will give you an oddly fibrous pesto that will likely diminish your enjoyment.
Peel and cut your garlic into similar sizes—I had halved and quartered my cloves.
The cut garlic and walnuts get to be added to the food processor first. I used the ‘pulse’ setting on my Ninja until the mixture resembled crumbs—15-20 pulses.
Next you can add your cheese and pulse until mixed—for me this was about 5 pulses. I typically have Parmesan cheese on hand, but Romano is just as good here! Today I have pre-shredded cheese, but you can easily shred your own too. Note: I cannot recommend using the non refrigerated powdery parmesan ‘cheese’…it is very much NOT cheese to me.
Back to Pesto! Your washed and dried basil is now ready to join the party! It may look like too much to fit, but once the leaves start getting processed, the volume will condense dramatically!
My food processor has a spot in the lid for me to pour liquids into the bowl while the processor ins in operation. To help the Basil Walnut mixture blend into the perfection known as pesto, you will want to start adding oil a few seconds before you start blending. I used the low, then medium setting for about 30 seconds total, then paused to scrape down the walls of the bowl, taste for flavor, and check the consistency. I then added a touch of salt and more olive oil and used the medium setting for about another 30 seconds.
Thats it! You now have an absolutely perfect batch of pesto! You can both enjoy your Basil Walnut pesto now and later! I like to keep some in silicone ice cream trays with lids in the freezer for easy storage. To use, simply pop one or two cubes out and thaw to enjoy! And pro tip: add a cube or two of frozen pesto to pasta in a lunch size container for a super easy lunch prep idea!
- Basil does not like the cold, so don’t put it in the refrigerator. Otherwise it will turn black and yucky.
- I find that pine nuts, while very traditional, are rather costly for my use. I have no specific issue with them, but I find the walnuts work great for my use and add just a bit of extra texture. No walnuts? Unsalted Almonds work great here too!
Five Ingredient Basil Walnut Pesto
Four ounces of fresh basil (the size container my store sells)
Four quarter cups of parmesan cheese
Four quarter cups of walnuts (I prefer walnuts to pine nuts for both texture and cost, almonds also work very well in this recipe)
Four quarter cups of good EVOO
Four cloves of garlic (I choose the really big cloves for a super garlicy pesto)
Optional: Salt to taste
- Gather and measure ingredients
- Wash then dry basil and remove leaves from stems
- Peel and cut garlic into similar sizes
- Add Garlic and walnuts to Food Processor, Pulse 15-20 times
- Add Cheese to Food Processor, Pulse just until combined
- Add Basil all at once
- Add oil, start combining on low then medium speed while still adding oil
- Scrape walls of bowl, taste for flavor, check consistency. If needed add a pinch of salt and more oil—blend at medium.
- Enjoy some now, and freeze some for the future!