Toasted Walnut & Garden-Fresh Sweet Basil Pesto ((Homemade))
It has been a tough season for the garden! I had one squash to harvest ((boo to the squash bugs)), a few beets, pithy radishes galore, not one bean and the tomatoes have begrudgingly produced – if that is even possible. But a few things have been outstanding – and I am not referring to the weeds.
Yes, my herbs have been exploding. The herb bounty has been the saving grace of this garden year. Thyme is growing in mounds, rosemary is thankfully healthier than I have ever seen, chives are standing tall & proud and basil – ah my basil. The basil is my garden’s crown jewel, sweet and full, fragrant and beautifully glossy-green.
With such a season as this, where I have more basil than I can ever use, homemade pesto is a must!
Just a few high quality, easy to find ingredients and the spin of my food processor – and boom!! Truly the most delicious pesto I have ever tasted. Slightly sweet, salty, a pop of garlic and an amazing earthy, buttery nuttiness from my secret ingredient: toasted walnuts.
I toasted about 1 cup of walnut halves for 4 minutes and then allowed them to cool before adding them to the basil leaves, garlic & chunks of parmesan cheese.
While the walnuts are toasting, pick the basil leaves off of the stems, peel 3 cloves of garlic and break 6 ounces of parmesan into chunks.
Place all of the ingredients into your handy food processor, cover and pulse. While pulsing, drizzle 1/2 to 3/4 cup of high quality olive oil into the food processor bowl.
Season with sea salt and cracked pepper to taste and continue to pulse until the olive oil and other pesto ingredients are combined.
Store in a lidded jar and cover with 2 to 3 T olive oil, to keep the pesto from oxidizing ((turning black)).
The toasted walnut pesto will last up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Every time you use some of the pesto, be sure to pour a little more olive oil over the top, to help maintain freshness.
I simply spread a few tablespoons over the top of some bone-in chicken breast, top with fresh tomato slices and fresh mozzarella and bake. With such fresh, flavor-packed ingredients – dinner is a breeze to put together & sure to be a hit!
It was so easy to make that I forgot to take any more pictures (argh).
It was so tasty, this is literally the only photo I snapped. Bummer. But wow, talk about a simple and flavor packed way to prepare chicken.
I have to say, the pesto was the star. The walnuts were a magical twist – trust me. Go forth and pesto.
- 10, 8"-10" fresh, sweet basil sprigs (or about 1 1/2 cups of fresh basil leaves)
- 2 medium, peeled cloves of fresh garlic
- 6 to 8 oz. block parmesan cheese, broken into crumbles
- 1 to 1 1/4 c toasted walnut halves*
- 1/2 to 3/4 c olive oil, the higher the quality, the better
- sea salt & cracked pepper to taste
- Wash and gently pat dry the fresh basil & pluck the leaves from the stems. Either discard the stems or feed them to your pigs and bunnies. Place the first 4 ingredients into your food processor, lock the lid and pulse. While pulsing add olive oil by drizzling the oil through the opening on top of the food processor lid (while the food processor is on). Pulse until desired texture is reached, season to taste and pulse again to combine.
- Use immediately or place in a lidded glass jar and store until ready to use or up to 2 weeks**.
- * toast the walnuts on a medium toast setting, for 3 to 4 minutes. Be sure to watch closely, burned walnuts will ruin the pesto.
- ** when storing the pesto, leave a 1/2" of space at the top of the jar and cover the top of the pesto with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. The will keep the pesto from oxidizing, or at least greatly slow the oxidation process.