There are a few things I love about summer. And one of them is enjoying fresh picked produce! Inspired by garden fresh flavors, I created a watercolor illustration of tomatoes, basil and olive oil for a home decor company. The stone plaque they produced sits on my counter and reminds me when it’s time to make my favorite Basil Walnut Pesto recipe!
And that time is finally here.
I love using fresh pesto sauce on everything from pasta and paninis to tomato bruschetta.
Most traditional basil pesto recipes call for pine nuts, but this recipe uses walnuts instead. I eat walnuts every day so I always have the big bag of Costco walnuts on hand. And I like the flavor and texture they add to the pesto. Plus they’re less expensive and provide lots of heart healthy fats! Pine nuts or almonds both can be substituted for the walnuts.
If you have fresh basil in your garden, it’s ready to use and the more you pinch back the leaves the more it will produce! Fresh basil is also readily available at Farmer’s Markets and grocery stores.
The recipe calls for 5 simple ingredients! You’ll need basil, walnuts, olive oil, parmesan and fresh garlic.
Pesto is very easy to make and I’ve included the printable recipe at the end of the post.
Assemble the ingredients in a food processor and presto-it’s Basil Walnut Pesto! I like to make it a few hours ahead and store it covered in the refrigerator so the flavors can meld. It will get thicker when it’s chilled, so when you’re making the pesto add a little extra olive oil to achieve the thickness you prefer.
Pesto is wonderful added to cooked pasta along with chopped fresh tomatoes and shaved parmesan. And it’s great on homemade pizzas and appetizers!
When homegrown tomatoes are available at the Farmer’s Market, I love to make Caprese Salad. It’s a simple Italian salad made with layers of sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil drizzled with olive oil. And if I have Basil Walnut pesto on hand I add a little to the salad for extra Italian flavor.
I also like to toss pesto with quinoa and vegetables for a quick and healthy lunch or dinner!
My favorite combination is quinoa, chopped tomatoes, black or kalamata olives, edamame or cannellini beans, roasted red peppers and feta tossed with pesto and additional chopped basil! I cook extra portions of quinoa and edamame so I can have it in the refrigerator and assemble a meal in minutes. It’s my favorite meal of the summer and it’s good warm or cold!
Pesto keeps for several days, and if you have extra pesto it freezes well for later use. I spoon the pesto into ice cube trays and when they’re frozen I pop the cubes out and store them in containers in the freezer. They’re great to use in sauces or soups, and it’s wonderful to savor summer flavors in winter!
If you’re lucky enough to have basil taking over your garden, you might want to make extra pesto for sharing! I’ve included a printable page of the Basil Walnut Pesto recipe cards and tags as shown here. I like to include a copy of the recipe with my Pesto gift, just in case anyone in the family might have a walnut allergy.
I printed the tags and cards on parchment card stock, but white card stock would be fine too. Just click to save and print below.
Enjoy the fresh tastes of summer!