Pesto is one of my favorite things to have in the freezer because of its versatility. You can pull it out for dinner with some gnocchi and wine or even spread on a baguette with fresh mozzarella and tomato for lunch. In the summer, when the basil plants are producing more leaves than you can keep up with, whip up a big batch of pesto and stock your freezer, you wont be sorry.
Traditional pesto calls for pine nuts however this particular recipe uses walnuts. Since I toned down the flavor of the garlic by roasting it, I needed to add something with a bigger pop of flavor, and walnuts were just the thing. They give a much needed warmth to the spice of the red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese. The squeeze of lemon balances the richness of the olive oil however if your not a huge fan you can leave it out. The last thing I will say about this recipe is that it always taste better when the basil is hand ground. Obviously, not everyone has a mortar and pestle sitting on their counter so a food processor will work just fine. I hope you enjoy!
Walnut and Roasted Garlic Pesto
Cook Time: 70 mins
Total Time: 1.25 hrs
5 cups fresh packed basil
1 head garlic
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup shredded/grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup plus 1 tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tbs coarse salt
black pepper to taste
squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
- Pre-heat oven to 300
- Cut off top of garlic and remove outer paper, leaving the thicker skin intact. Drizzle 1 tbs olive oil over garlic in oven-safe dish and mix to coat. Cover with foil.
- Place in oven to roast for 60 minutes.
- When timer is done, add walnuts to pan with garlic and place back in oven to roast for 10 minutes more.
- Add basil, parmesan, red pepper, salt, and pepper to mortar and pestle or food processor.
- Pulse a few times until basil is slightly broken up.
- Peel roasted garlic and add garlic and walnuts to food processor.
- Turn on processor. While food processor is running, slowly add in olive oil until your pesto forms a paste- continue adding olive oil one tablespoon at a time until the pesto is your desired consitency.