I buy a big bunch of Italian parsley nearly every time I go to the market. It’s one of those herbs that go in everything. I chop it to sprinkle on top of stews and soups; I toss it in salads. It’s a great nutritional addition to smoothies and juices, and when I end up with too much parsley, I make a pesto or a tabouli salad. This recipe for walnut, parsley and basil pesto is super-easy to prepare. Just throw the ingredients into a food processor, blend and you’re done. If you don’t have walnuts, you can substitute pine nuts, almonds or cashews.
This pesto is delicious on pasta, but have you ever used it as a spread on a sandwich? Try it with roasted eggplant, red pepper and mozzarella on crusty bread. It’s also a delicious topping on pizza or a fresh buratta salad. Pesto will keep for 5 days, but it’s best to use it right away if you want to preserve the bright green color.
This is one of those simple recipes that really benefits from the best, freshest ingredients. Try to use the best extra-virgin olive oil you can find. I used an unfiltered, cold press Italian olive oil and it really added flavor to the pesto. Fresh nuts are also important. If you find your walnuts are too bitter, poach them quickly in boiling water to remove the skins. Try not to skimp on the cheese either. A good Parmesan always tastes better than the canned kind.
I made this walnut, parsley and pesto recipe one night when I wasn’t in the mood for a meat dish for dinner. I gave a little bit to my 8-month-old son and he loved it. It was amazing to watch his little face light up each time he stuffed a handful into his mouth. The leftovers became his lunch for the next two days and I spent a lot of time cleaning up the messes. They were worth it though. He was thrilled to be feeding himself and had fun sucking the angel hair noodles into his mouth. I’m still trying to get the green stains out of his clothes!
If you plan to add this pesto to pasta, cook until al dente and drain, reserving a few cups of pasta water. Add the drained pasta back to the warm pot, stirring in pesto and pasta water.
- ½ cup walnuts, toasted
- 3 cups flat leaf parsley leaves
- 1 cup basil leaves
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano
- Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
Pulse walnuts in the food processor until they have the appearance of sand. Add parsley, basil, parmesan and olive oil and process until blended. Season with salt and pepper.