Basil Walnut Pesto

Here’s a basic pesto recipe for ya. I used the HUGE bunch of basil in my CSA box from Johnson’s Backyard Garden. I use walnuts because I fear a second experience with the dreaded Pine Mouth. Walnuts add the same creamy texture, I think. Pecans also work nicely.

Pesto can be frozen, too, in case you have an over abundance of basil. Just pack it in 1-cup (or whatever amount is convenient for your family) containers and pour a tablespoon of olive oil over the top, or enough to cover the surface. The oil keeps it from oxidizing and protects against freezer burn. I’ve found that thawing it over night in the refrigerator works best. I’ve also heard of people freezing it in ice cube trays, then storing the cubes in plastic bags, giving you perfectly sized blocks of basil paste to add to spaghetti sauce.

I use less cheese and less oil in my pesto than you may be used to. This is because I am a stingy cheapskate and Parmesan and olive oil are expensive. You can always add more oil or cheese to the recipe, or just sprinkle more cheese on at the table.


Basil Walnut Pesto

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  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1.5 cups 1x


  • 1 large bunch basil
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic (about 2 tablespoons minced)
  • 1 ounce parmesan cheese, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  1. Pull the leaves off the basil and discard the stems. Rinse the leaves and measure. You’ll need 3 cups, lightly packed, for this recipe. If you have more or less, adjust the other ingredients to taste.
  2. Put the oil in your blender jar first, then all other ingredients.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Add salt if needed.


You may use pine nuts in place of walnuts for a traditional pesto sauce

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Throw this onto some hot pasta along with some vegetables for a quick variation on pasta primavera!


  1. Mother Effingby on June 10, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    Wow, thanks for the information on pine nuts, which are ridiculously expensive as well. I always laugh at the cooking show goddesses who go into their pantries and pull out these huge amounts of pine nuts while smiling all the while. Pine nuts, for a small tub cost about 15 dollars! Hell, Macadamia nuts are cheaper and tastier, but for pesto, my money’s on walnuts.
    If you are lucky enough to have walnut trees, your job is half done!

    • Hilah on June 12, 2012 at 8:24 am

      Ha! It’s true they are outrageous, plus the risk of pine mouth – no thanks! I also like pecans a lot, but they are getting to be really pricey, too, these days.

  2. Marfa on August 3, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    I do love pesto! Pine nuts are more expensive than other nuts, so I’ve been looking for alternatives. My grandfather gave us each a gift of a HUGE bag of pistachios, so I used it to make pesto this week.
    P.S. Thanks for your comment on my blog about the pistachio ice cream! Those pistachios will be gone very soon. ♥

    • Hilah on August 3, 2012 at 3:10 pm

      Ooh, I bet pistachio pesto is amazing! Thanks, Grandpa! 😉

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