This Basil Walnut Pesto recipe comes together in 15 minutes with just 6 ingredients. Great for pasta, sandwich spreads, and garnishing soups!
Pesto is deceptively easy to make and so tasty, you’ll wonder why you don’t make it more often.
Whether you stir it into mayonnaise for a sandwich, mix it in with cheese for a dip, or add it to your next creamy pasta, it’s rich and delicious and ready in no time at all.
What is Basil Pesto?
Traditional Genovese pesto is a basil-based sauce which originated in Genoa, Italy. Along with basil, it contains garlic, olive oil, a hard cheese such as parmesan, and pine nuts.
Since pine nuts are so expensive, I always use walnuts. Almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts work too.
How do I make Pesto?
Star by toasting unpeeled garlic cloves and walnuts to amp up their flavor (this is optional but recommended). Next, combine the garlic and nuts in a food processor.
Add basil, garlic, olive oil, and cheese. Blend until smooth and season to taste with salt and pepper.
How do you keep basil pesto from turning brown?
Since basil can easily turn brown when blitzed in a food processor or blender, I add parsley to my pesto. This ensures a bright green color no matter what.
Beyond that, oxygen turns pesto brown. You can prevent this by adding a small layer of olive oil to the jar of pesto before you put it in the refrigerator.
Can Pesto be frozen?
Basil Walnut Pesto is freezer-friendly! Pour into a jar and top with olive oil to keep air out. Be sure to leave enough space at the top of the jar for expansion. Thaw in the refrigerator when you’re ready to use it.
This is especially helpful if you grow basil in your garden. You can make pesto and freeze it for the cold winter months when you want a taste of summer!
Is Basil Pesto healthy?
Yes! Everyone has their own definition of “healthy,” but I like pesto because it is full of whole-food ingredients and can be modified depending on your diet.
Pesto is naturally gluten free, vegetarian, and keto.
To make pesto vegan or paleo, just leave out the cheese.
Basil Walnut Pesto Recipe
- 6 cloves garlic unpeeled (see notes)
- 1/2 cup walnuts (see notes)
- 4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 cup packed fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To toast the garlic (optional):
- Toast the garlic cloves in their skin in a small skillet over medium heat, shaking often, until brown spots form, about 5 minutes. Remove to a small bowl to cool before peeling.
To toast the walnuts (optional):
- Meanwhile, return the skillet to medium heat and add walnuts. Toast until fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes, shaking frequently to prevent scorching. Remove from heat.
To make the pesto:
- Combine peeled garlic, walnuts, basil, parsley, parmesan cheese, and olive oil in a blender or food processor; blend until smooth.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve as a topping on pasta (3/4 c. pesto per pound of pasta), as a spread on sandwiches, or as a garnish to soups.
- Toast the garlic and the walnuts is optional but recommended. If skipping these steps, peeling the garlic before adding to the food processor in Step 3.