Light, flavorful and full of healthy fats, this Basil Walnut Pesto turns the ordinary into something extraordinary in just minutes.
Pesto: Italian for ‘magic sauce’
Okay, it’s not really the Italian word for magic (that’s actually ‘magia’) but it should be, in my humble culinary opinion. ‘Pesto’ is the English translation of the word ‘pestare’ which means “to pound or crush” (think mortar and pestle here). Pesto is a simple sauce made of just 5 ingredients: fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese and olive oil. It’s traditionally made by hand using a sharp single-blade rocker knife called a mezzaluna. Since I’m not an Italian grandmother, nor have I ever had one, I like to keep things simple and use the food processor which makes an equally delicious sauce with just a fraction of the effort (and there’s no risk of brown pesto which happens when your knife isn’t ridiculously sharp and bruises or tears the basil rather than cutting it cleanly).
Bright, light, clean and allergy-friendly
This Basil Walnut Pesto veers slightly from the traditional recipe not only in the preparation method but also in the ingredients (but it’s still just 5 simple ingredients). Parmesan cheese is left out to make it dairy-free, paleo and Whole30-friendly, substituting lemon juice and salt to give it that salty tang that’s part of pesto’s allure. For a nut-free pesto, simply substitute pumpkin seeds for the walnuts. Magic sauce for everyone!
Love those healthy fats!
Walnuts are a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids (the ones we should all be eating more of). Plus, they’re rich in phenols and flavonoids giving them an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant edge over the pine nuts traditionally used in pesto.
Is there really ‘magic’ in this sauce?
Technically, no. And yes, I do live in Colorado but that’s not my leafy green of choice…though this Basil Walnut Pesto is almost as mind-bending and makes everything you put it on so insanely delicious and crave-worthy. Try it served over roasted spaghetti squash for a comforting bowl of ‘noodles’ you can really tuck into or serve it over grilled chicken, fish, shrimp or steak – or simply toss it with your favorite roasted or grilled vegetables for an intensely fresh, flavorful and easy side dish for your next gathering or weeknight dinner.
- 4 ounces fresh basil (about 2 cups packed leaves)
- ¼ cup walnuts
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- To the bowl of a food processor, basil walnuts, ¼ cup olive oil, garlic and lemon juice.
- Blend until smooth, adding the final 2 Tbsp. olive oil through the chute in the lid while the motor is running.
- Taste then add salt and pepper to taste.
- To keep pesto from browning, pour enough olive oil into the jar to completely cover the surface of the pesto.
- For longer storage, freeze pesto in ice cube trays then transfer frozen cubes to a zip-top bag. Thaw and use as a sauce or add frozen to soups or stews.
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We want to know! What you’re favorite sauce for adding flavor and pizzaz to your meals?
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