Basil Walnut Pesto

Last year, my brother grew an obscene amount of basil on the back porch of his apartment in Brooklyn, and when he visited New Haven at summer’s end, I was the lucky recipient of a huge jar of pesto.* I just about died from happiness. Then I just about died from fullness, because I polished off half the jar in one sitting. Oof! Finally, I swore to myself that the following year, I would grow more basil. Buckets of basil! Fields of basil! Whatever it took to keep me in business with pesto all summer long!

I guess you could say I enjoy gardening, although I’m not good or dedicated enough to say that without cringing a little. While I have shown my share of perseverance over the years — I’m thinking of those two summers in West Philly when I spent the days carting 2-liter bottles of water up a treacherous wooden ladder through my cockroach-infested attic to my  makeshift roof garden — I typically approach gardening with a laissez-faire attitude. Thankfully, basil is a very forgiving plant, and where I live, it takes incredibly little effort to grow.

As such, my porch is currently covered in as many pots of basil as that space reasonably allows, and I’ve been generous with my basil use all summer. Last week, I threw a few handfuls into my Black Bean and Corn Salad, and this week, I made my third batch of this pesto.

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Basil Walnut Pesto
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: about 1 cup
  • 5 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • ½ c walnuts, toasted and cooled
  • 3-4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast, optional
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Pulse walnuts in a blender or food processor for a couple of seconds.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and blend until mostly smooth.
  3. Adjust seasonings as desired.
  4. Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate in an air-tight container until serving.
As is, this recipe makes a thicker pesto, best for spreading on warm, crusty bread.
Use more olive oil and salt if you'll be using your pesto as a sauce on pasta -- I recommend serving it over fettuccine with artichoke hearts and halved, roasted grape tomatoes.


*I never did ask if my brother’s gift was subconsciously related to our mutual love of the Lemonheads, but really, I think that’s a reasonable conclusion. Pesto Eating Siblings Talk Often, y’know what I mean?