This 10-Minute Basil Walnut Pesto is the quintessential summer sauce. It comes together in under 10 minutes with just five fresh ingredients, no cooking necessary. It also freezes well for later!
Summer is here, and those backyard gardens are in full swing, mine included! And one of the first plants to really take off in our garden this year? Basil.
If you’ve ever planted basil, you know that one little plant grows big and fast in the summer sun. Basil can get out of control quite quickly if you don’t prune it regularly.
But what exactly do you do with all of that basil? I love it in a fresh tomato salad, and it’s delicious in Italian and Thai dishes. But sometimes you just have more than you know what to do with, you know?
That’s where this 10-Minute Basil Walnut Pesto comes in, because the answer to “what do you do with a bunch of basil?” is always: make PESTO.
If you’ve never made pesto before, well… first of all, you’re about to fall in love. Pesto is an incredibly versatile sauce that requires no cooking (that’s right – NO COOKING). It’s the perfect sauce to make in the summertime when it’s too hot to heat up the stove every day.
It will take you all of MAYBE 10 minutes to make, and it’s delicious for all kinds of savory dishes. My favorite way to eat pesto is over pasta or roasted veggies. It’s also amazing as a dipping sauce for a loaf of warm, crusty bread, maybe alongside a cool glass of wine on a summer evening? Just saying.
Furthermore, this 10-Minute Basil Walnut Pesto requires just 5 ingredients (plus salt and pepper to your taste) – all fresh, whole foods that you probably have in your kitchen right now.
And in the event that you can’t get your hands on some fresh basil or you don’t really care for walnuts, you can absolutely substitute just about any leafy green and any nut to make your own delightful version of this recipe. Spinach and arugula, are great substitutes for the basil, and pine nuts and almonds work well in place of the walnuts.
As an added bonus, basil walnut pesto is also freezer friendly. Really, could this sauce get any better?
Simply make the sauce, put it into an airtight container, and freeze. Then, next winter, on a bitter cold night when you don’t feel like cooking and you’re dying for a taste of summer, you can pull it out and pour it over a big bowl of pasta for the ultimate comfort meal.
Lastly, this recipe is incredibly useful for helping kids learn to love their greens. It tastes great, and you can easily involve your kids in the cooking process by having them help measure out ingredients and work the food processor (with your supervision, of course).
So get ahold of some fresh basil and get your family into the kitchen. The perfect summer sauce awaits!
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- ¼ cup walnuts
- 3 garlic cloves
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup shredded parmesan or pecorino romano cheese (or ¼ cup each)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Add the basil, walnuts, and garlic cloves to the bowl of the food processor, and pulse until the ingredients are minced very finely.
- With the food processor running on low, slowly pour in the olive oil and continue to process until the sauce is smooth.
- Add in the cheese and process for another 30 seconds.
- Taste, and stir in salt and pepper as needed.
- Refrigerate and use within 1-2 weeks, or freeze in an airtight container.
- If you don't have basil on hand, try substituting spinach or arugula. In place of walnuts, you can substitute other nuts like almonds or pine nuts.
- The amount of salt you will need depends both on your taste and the type of cheese you use. Taste the sauce first, then add ⅛ teaspoon of salt at a time until desired flavor is achieved. I typically add ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon salt to my sauce.