Walnut Basil Pesto

Last night I thought I was going to use a leftover Brie Bechamel Sauce that was leftover from another dinner a couple of nights ago.  I was going to  turn it into a Creamy Pesto Pasta Sauce that would have been served with shrimp over fusilli col buco pasta.  That is pasta that is long like spaghetti but in a spiral shape.  Totally bought those for the kids and for the kid in all of us.

Then I received a phone call from my Mom reminding me that she was coming over after work for dinner.

Me: “No prob, but I kinda forgot and am going to make shrimp.” She is allergic.  “It’s okay though I will leave it on the side and if you can bring some chicken, you can have that with the pasta.”

Her: “Great, will do!  Pesto will be fantastic.”

And we go about the day until I am driving the kids home from after school activities and realize that there is walnuts in the pesto.  Crap, Mom is allergic to those too!  I think I am unintentionally trying to poison my Mother.  Worst child ever!

But, wait!  I can use the Brie Bechamel for her pasta and we will just have normal pesto and shrimp pasta and everyone will be happy and more importantly, everyone will live.

Crisis averted…

Here is the finished Walnut Pesto (not cream sauce) Pasta with Shrimp and Asparagus

Shirmp with Walnut Pesto and Asparagus

Pretty much everyone out there in cooking land has made a pesto or re-created a form of pesto using arugula, parsley, cilantro.  Different cheeses, different oils, different nuts…even roasted red peppers or sun dried tomatoes  So, really pesto has been morphed by so many others, it is hard to say you can create an entirely new one.

But, you can master the concept.  That being you combine an herb, cheese, garlic, salt, nut and oil together and get a rich sauce to be used on so many things.  There can be a few adjustments or add-ons, but the concept for the most part never changes.

So here is my one idea for one type of pesto…

Start with the ingredients.

Ingredients for Walnut Pesto

Get out my food processor and process the walnuts, garlic, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese together till you get something like this…

Walnut Parmesan Mix for Pesto

Then talk to yourself and say, “self let us add the rind and juice of one lemon.”  “Let’s add it for flavor and to protect the beautiful green basil we are about to demolish into itty bitty pieces.”

Lemon for Pesto

This beautiful lemon came courtesy of my Mother’s friends backyard.  Merci to you I say!

Then put tons of basil in the food processor with the lemon peel and lemon juice…

basil with lemon peel

Turn the puppy back on and then slowly drizzle a whole lot of olive oil.  I used a pretty decent one since I wanted the fruity olive juice to come out.  Keep going until you reach the consistency you want or until you run out of olive oil.  I did the latter, but thank goodness I was happy with the consistency.

Basil Walnut Pesto

Finally, try with all your might to do a fancy money shot.  Should have remembered to save a couple of whole basil leaves for decoration.  Aw, well as I say, I am not one for the photography or food styling part.  Oh, FYI…this is the stage you also taste it and adjust the seasonings.  Mine needed more salt and some more Parmesan cheese at this point.  Stir (no need to food process anymore), taste and revel in the amazing joy the flavor brings to you.

Finished Walnut Pesto

How does that look?  Good enough to go on fancy spaghetti like spiral noodles?  Well, if not how about this shot?

Pesto Sauce with Walnuts

How about this picture?  Good?  I don’t know the lighting is off…but, Ce la vie, the pesto tastes superb and that is all that really counts.

Walnut Basil Pesto

  • 3 cups Fresh Basil (leaves only and semi-packed)
  • 1 clove Garlic (I used to and it seemed too much, but by all means add another if you wish)
  • 1/2 cup Walnut halves and pieces
  • 1-2 cups of Olive Oil (this is really per your texture desire.  Thinner more oil, thicker less oil)
  • Zest and Juice of (1) Lemon
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups of Grated Parmesan Cheese (Again based on your taste.  I say start with the 1/2 cup and add some more at the end if you wish)
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  1. In your food processor, put the garlic, walnuts, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in.  Pulse till a course mixture occurs.
  2. Add the basil, lemon juice and zest of the lemon.  Start the food processor and slowly start to drizzle the olive oil.
  3. After a few seconds turn off the processor, open the lid and with a spatula, scrape down the sides.
  4. Put the lid back on and turn it on again and drizzle more olive oil until you get the consistency you want.
  5. Turn it off and open the lid.  Put the pesto into a container.  Taste it and adjust the salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese to your liking.  Give a quick stir.  Store in the fridge or freezer in a tight lid container until ready for use.

This pesto was so good.  And it is full of nutrients from the walnuts, basil, lemon and olive oil.  It almost makes eating a ton of pasta seem guilt free :)  Just make sure you, your family and/or your guests are not deathly allergic to the ingredients and I promise you this will please even the pickiest of eaters.  And as for my Mom, she is totally healthy and she appreciated the Brie Chicken Alfredo that was made just for her.  Now go and make a family night dinner of your own…Clink!

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