The best walnut basil pesto recipe that you'll make. A family recipe with one unique touch, ready in 10 minutes. This pesto sauce with walnuts is so versatile and good on everything, from pasta to chicken and veggies.
Why This Recipe Works
Coming from Italian descendants, Marco's family has been making this recipe for generations. The unique touch that has been carried all the years is adding anchovy fillets to this basil pesto with walnuts.
The anchovy is to add umami and creaminess so that you don't need to use so much of the expensive parmesan cheese. This pesto with walnuts will not taste fishy at all, promise.
His family also has been making this pesto recipe without pine nuts because walnuts are cheaper and yet taste equally amazing.
It goes great on everything, like my whole-wheat English muffins and no-knead multi-seed bread! Instead of using a pestle and mortar, we've improved the method by using a food processor. It's ready in less than 10 minutes!
Ingredients For This Pesto
Basil - Sweet basil, Sweet Genovese or also known as Genovese basil. The most common basil that you'll find in the supermarket.
Walnuts - Give more nutty flavor to the pesto. And they're cheaper! Pine nuts are milder and more expensive, but they work also.
Anchovy fillets - Don't knock it till you tried it. It's Marco's family's secret ingredient that gives the umami flavor to this basil pesto. It won't taste fishy at all, promise!
*See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
1. Blend the walnuts. Add walnuts to a small food processor. Blend until they turn into small fine pieces.
2. Blend the main ingredients. Add basils, parsley, garlic, and anchovy fillets. Blend until everything is well chopped. Scrape the side of the bowl now and then.
3. Stream in olive oil. While the food processor is running on low, slowly stream in the olive oil.
4. Add in parmesan cheese. Finally, add in grated parmesan cheese and blend briefly until everything is thoroughly mixed together. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Enjoy your walnut basil pesto!
Recipe Expert Tips
- Use vibrant basil leaves. The color of the walnut basil pesto depends on it. Buy basil plants (more vibrant) instead of basil leaves packed in a container (which results in darker-colored pesto).
- Use a small food processor. This is to make sure it can chop all the ingredients into fine pieces. The small thinner bowl works better than the big wider one.
- Find the best anchovy fillets. You'll get an added creamy delicious umami flavor. It's totally worth it.
How To Serve And Store
Serve - Think of it as a sauce or dipping sauce like for my Everything bagel pull-apart bread. Toss it with pasta, spread on toasted bread, use it in sandwiches, or drizzle on some baked potatoes. Make my pesto bread rolls, you'll love them!
Store - In an air-tight container, in the fridge for a week. Cover it with a thin layer of olive oil so that it lasts longer. Freeze in an ice cube tray and once frozen place the cubes in a ziplock bag. They last for 6 months.
The bitter taste most definitely comes from the olive oil that's already rancid. Extra virgin olive oil has a subtle bitter touch, not until it's not tolerable.
Walnuts are cheaper and equally tasteful! Also, it's to avoid the bitter and metallic taste (Pine Mouth Syndrome) that some people are sensitive to.
Although I don't bother, you can do the extra step of blanching the basil leaves, and pat them dry before using. Adding a squeeze of lemon juice also helps.
What To Eat It With
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Walnut Basil Pesto
- ¼ cup walnuts
- 2 cup packed basil leaves
- ½ cup packed parsley
- 3 garlic cloves
- 5 anchovy fillets
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup packed grated parmesan cheese
- Blend walnuts in a small food processor until they're in fine small pieces.
- Add basil, parsley, walnuts, garlic, and anchovy fillets and blend until everything is finely minced. Scrape the side of the bowl now and then.
- While the food processor is running, slowly stream in the olive oil.
- Finally, add in parmesan cheese and blend briefly until everything is well mixed. Adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper if needed. Enjoy!
- Use a small food processor bowl so that everything is finely minced.
- Scrape the side of the bowl now and then during the process.
Originally published on Jul 24, 2019. Updated with improved text, recipe, and pictures on Jun 3, 2023.