Monday, August 18, 2014

Quick & Easy Roasted Walnut Pesto


I love pesto but I don't love the ridiculously high cost of pine nuts, which is one of the key ingredient in pesto. I just can't bring myself to pay $5.00 for 2 ounces of pine nuts. But I'll spend it for a few strands of saffron ... go figure!

So instead I use walnuts. I know, that's nothing new, but I also like to use nut oil to roast the walnuts. Specifically walnut oil to roast them.

Why? I find that it deepens the overall flavor of the nut when roasted in it's own nut oil.

Deeper flavor on the walnuts, richer tasting pesto.  Fresh basil, lemon zest and good quality extra-virgin olive oil are what makes this pesto extra flavorful. I add a little heat by way of a few pinches of cayenne pepper but it's optional, leave it out if you don't care for heat in your pesto.

  • 2 cups of basil
  • 1/4 cup roasted walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon walnut oil* (or any nut oil for deeper flavor)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup of grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese (or any hard cheese you have on hand)
  • 1 -2 cloves of garlic
  • 2/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper or more to taste (optional)
  • Black pepper to taste
  1. Cover walnuts with walnut oil. Place walnuts on a foil lined baking sheet in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for a total of 8-10 minutes, stirring gently halfway through the cooking time so that each side roasts evenly.  Keep an eye on the walnuts because they can go from right to way overdone in just a blink. Allow to cool.
  2. Place the basil, garlic and nuts ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse for 15 seconds. 
  3. Add remaining ingredient and process until almost smooth. I like mine a little chunkier.  If it's too pasty for you stir in a little more olive oil.
Makes about 1 cup. Store in a glass mason jar in fridge, keeps well for about two weeks or you can freeze in an ice cube tray, making sure to top each cube with olive oil.
Remove once frozen and store in a freezer zip bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. 

*If you don't have a nut oil at home just use canola oil. Do not use olive oil.


  1. This looks delicious! The idea of using roasted walnuts is fabulous. I'm sure it adds a rich full flavor all of its own. Thanks for sharing!

  2. The roasting really adds a little touch of richness, that it would otherwise lack if not roasted. Thank you for commenting Jodee!