Walnut + Basil Pesto

Walnut + Basil Pesto

Old Recipe Dips + Condiments,Savoury

“God gives the nuts – but he does not crack them” Franz Kafka

Pesto is a favourite in my house and making a homemade one with fresh basil is a complete joy. Homemade means you can control the amount of salt, olive oil and cheese!

I never add in the Parmesan, as I know I tend to add some while serving on top, there isn’t the need of extra cheese inside.

I use this recipe with walnuts, while traditionally Italians use the rich pine nuts, oozing with flavour and calories! I refrain from pine nuts simply because it is too fattening, requires a special trip to the store (leading to procrastination), and frankly, quite expensive (also leading to procrastination!).

Walnuts are a great substitute, because, well, I always have a ton of them lying around the house, the nutritional values are great, and they have a lighter feel than pine nuts.

Walnuts, lemon and basil make a beautiful medley, and is a refreshing twist in pastas, sandwiches and dips.

However, if you do have pine nuts and want to use them, please do – it really is the most authentic way! (Pine nuts are a great source of proteins and fibres, but are calculated at about 190 calories per ounce! Add this with the olive oil – ACK!)

Regarding the garlic – a while back I received a reply from a friend in Atlanta re the tomato + basil pasta with: “12-14 cloves? Hellooo garlic breath!”

I must clarify that these recipes are based on Indian produce and sizes. American vegetable produce are larger in sizes and stronger in tastes as well. One Indian lemon is probably a quarter of a big American Meyer lemon. Garlic cloves must be halved at least, if not further lessened!


Use the juice of an entire lemon – don’t cheat on this. Grind the ingredients together until you get your desired consistency. I like some of the basil leaves to be a bigger size rather than a mushy paste – but this is entirely personal.

Basil leaves should be fresh and good quality.

If you want to use pine nuts, add in ½ cup of pine nuts, while omitting the walnuts.

This portion makes for a medium mason jar, which can be used to stir into spaghetti for 4-6 people.

Quantity of garlic cloves is based on Indian garlic; American garlic is stronger, hence halve the quantity.

The Recipe
Serves Yields: 1 medium mason jar | Prep Time: 30 mins


  • 200g fresh basil
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup Parmigiana cheese (optional)
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 7-8 cloves garlic
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt + Pepper


  • Wash the basil leaves well and pat dry. (Ensure the stems are removed)
  • In a mixer, crush all the ingredients together until desired consistency. (You can add more olive oil or lemon juice as per your tastes)
  • This stays well in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week, and stays a lot longer in the freezer.
  • To make pasta: Gently saute vegetables, garlic and onions in some olive oil. Stir in the walnut basil pesto sauce and then boiled pasta. Serve warm with some grated Parmesan cheese.

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The recipes are tried and tested, some are adapted from various places, and a few are passed down; but every one of them comes straight from the heart.