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recipe: walnut pesto

February 17, 2011

Another Wednesday come and gone. Because of my schedule, Wednesdays are designated to be what I like to call “easy-dinner-night”. You see, I go straight after work to my running class. An hour and a rough speed workout (hill intervals, oy!) later, I book it home to fix dinner. Thankfully, I planned ahead and had a super easy and quick meal that my husband and I could enjoy together.

Sometime last week, I made margherita pizza, complete with homemade whole wheat crust. Yes, yes, the recipe is forthcoming (thanks for being patient with me). One of these days! Anyways, I had quite a few pieces of basil, for the tomato-basil soup that I made and for this pizza (fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil), but I still had some left in the fridge. I hate wasting ingredients so I had to think quickly and wisely. What could I do with the remaining basil?

Hmmmm. Extra basil. Basil. Pesto! That’s it! Who doesn’t love some good pesto?

If you’ve never made pesto, it is the easiest thing to make. I used to be afraid of attempting it on my own, thinking it would be pretty difficult to do, for something that tastes so good. Well, I was wrong! No need to fear but what you do need is a food processor and some basic ingredients.

So, my friends, if you’re looking for an easy dinner, make pesto ahead of time and throw it on some pasta or ravioli. No stress, no fuss, just a simple and delicious dinner. And what’s great about pesto is you can use what you have on hand (of course, not forgetting the most important part – basil, mmmmm). The recipe below is just that. Ingredients that I already had in the fridge and in the pantry and just made do with substitutions (i.e. I didn’t have enough pine nuts so I compensated with walnuts instead). Feel free to experiment with ingredients and I’m sure it will taste great!

Walnut Pesto

  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, de-stemmed
  • 1/8 cup pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/2-3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Put basil leaves, pine nuts and walnuts in a food processor, pulsing until in crumbly pieces. Add garlic and tomatoes, and pulse for 15-30 seconds.

2. Add parmesan and olive oil, pulse for another 30 seconds or until desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

And tonight, for dinner, I cooked some store-bought refrigerated wild mushroom agnolotti (with crimini & portobello mushrooms, grana padano & parmesan cheese & roasted garlic – Buitoni brand) and topped it with pesto. Add a romaine salad with low-fat caesar dressing (Cardini’s) and can we say . . . easy?

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