Tasty Noms: Michelle’s Walnut Pesto

Spring has sprung, and I’m feeling the urge to lighten up my cooking. Winter’s requisite heavy fare (roasts, stews, hearty soups, Eastern Euro soul food, lard with a side of lard in lard sauce) are ready to be abandoned, and replaced with a cornucopia of local fruits and veggies, luscious marinated meats on the barbecue, salads and rhubarbtastic desserts.

After last year’s flaming barbecue attack by our ditchpig neighbours in Chilliwack, I’ve been a teensy bit leery of the propane crematoriums on wheels, and have still not bothered to truck down that road. Summer in Manitoba is still not quite here, so the impetus to grill hasn’t quite kicked in yet.

Several days ago, my childhood bestie, Michelle, posted a status update on Facebook that piqued my culinary interest. She had made a walnut pesto from scratch, and it was a huge hit in her home. Intrigued, I let her know I was interested in the recipe, and she generously shared it. For the next two days, it was all I could think of. I printed a copy. I plotted my shopping. I blah blah blah’d poor Nanners about it over Facebook chat and on the phone. I warned my children that it was coming.

Finally, today, I went to the store and bought the ingredients I was lacking (hard cheese, fresh parsley) and embarked on my mission to make the BEST WALNUT PESTO EVAH!!

Michelle’s Walnut Pesto (with modification notes, by The Sourpuss)

In a blender, combine:

  • 3/4 cup of walnuts (toasted and cooled)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves (I used flat)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (If you use Kraft grated parm in a plastic can, I’ll haunt you after you die. I used a Grana Padano for kick.)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic (I used 2/3 of a clove of elephant garlic)
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/2 tsp of your favorite salt (Michelle used a Himalayan Crystal Salt, whereas I used a kosher salt.)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • Optional: 2 tbsp olive oil (I used it, Michelle did not, but says she would next time)
Toss everything into your blender or food processor. Blend/process until smooth. Toss with your pasta of preference (I was using up spaghettini from the back of the cupboard) and any veggies you may wish to add (I added chunks of chicken breast and ribbons of zucchini to it.) 
That’s it.
So simple. So good.
It was a great hit with my husband and older daughter, who both love pesto based pasta. I’m looking forward to creating permutations of this with toasted hazelnuts, celery leaves, spinach leaves, pine nuts. I dislike the overpowering basil one-two punch that most store-bought pesto contains, and this lighter, fresher version was delicious and light. The lack of preservatives and additives thrills me, and total time required to make the sauce after toasting the nuts was about two minutes.
Bon appetite!
Thanks to Michelle for this tasty treasure!

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