Walnut Basil Pesto Recipe

Walnut Basil Pesto

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This version of pesto is made using a mortar and pestle, which creates a pesto with a pleasing, almost creamy texture. Also, this is an option if you don’t have a food processor. Walnuts are used for their creaminess and healthy fat profile.

Walnut Basil Pesto Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup walnuts, raw for a creamier texture
  • 2 teaspoons of course salt, or to taste
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup torn basil leaves, removed from the stems
  • lemon zest, about 1 teaspoon or a few passes with a microplane
  • fresh lemon juice, from half a lemon or to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons of good olive oil, or as desired until pesto comes together
  • Fusilli pasta, as desired

Walnut Basil Pesto

Walnut Basil Pesto Ingredients

  1. If serving over pasta, place a pot of salted water on high to boil.
  2. Add pasta (fusilli is great with pesto) when the water is boiling rapidly and cook until al dente.
  3. Drain, saving some of the pasta water to loosen the pesto.
  4. Toss the pasta with a drizzle of olive oil.
  5. In the meantime, place the walnuts in the mortar and crush with the pestle until almost dust-like. Place in a side bowl.
  6. Then, place the garlic in the mortar and sprinkle with the salt to help break the garlic up and to create a paste with the pestle.
  7. Add the basil leaves to the mortar and add the lemon zest and the walnut dust.
  8. Work with the pestle until ground fine, about 3 minutes.
  9. Place in a small bowl and add the lemon juice and olive oil.
  10. Stir to combine and taste for seasoning, adding lemon or salt as needed.
  11. Toss over warm al dente pasta, adding a drizzle of pasta water (about 1 Tablespoon or as desired) and sprinkle ribbons of basil and frehly grated parmesan cheese over the top, as desired.
  12. Add chopped fresh mozzarella cheese and quartered grape tomatoes, if desired.
  13. Best when served fresh at room temperature.

About Loni & Leah:

Walnut Basil PestoClick here for more recipes by Loni and Leah!

Loni has a culinary certificate from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, as well as a B.S. in Nutrition from Boston University. When she isn’t cooking with Leah, she is changing the lives of young cooks at Future Chefs and Beaver Country Day Camp.

Leah is a graduate student of Boston University, working on her M.S. in Dietetics with the Dietetic Internship. In addition to training for the Boston Marathon, she is also teaching fitness classes at the Cambridge Athletic Club.

Walnut Basil Pesto

How did Loni and Leah meet?  Loni and Leah volunteered together in a six-week Cooking Matters class. They connected right away over delicious food and pink wine. They currently teach a series of healthy cooking classes at the Boston Center for Adult Education, which have been featured in the Boston Globe’s “Weekend to Do List.” You can find their recipes on the Boston Center for Adult Education’s blog and in the American Dietetic Association’s Eat Right Newsletter.

Want more in Cambridge? You can catch us at the Boston Center for Adult Education all year long!

Be sure to follow us on Twitter:
Leah @leahelspeth
Loni @lalaloni