spicy walnut pesto


Even though I made pesto a couple of weeks ago, my basil plant was in need of another big cut back. After cutting all of the basil for pesto I realized that I was out of pine nuts, so I substituted them with walnuts. I grabbed a handful and it ended up being a bit more than I had planned on. Luckily, it was a happy mistake. I dressed up the pesto with some red pepper flakes, which made it a delicious blend of spicy and nutty. This sauce does not have the great green color that regular pesto has; the walnuts create more of a paste than the pine nuts do, which mutes the color. Thankfully what it lacks in color, it more than makes up for in taste. I served it over some fettuccine and added a couple of sliced heirloom cherry tomatoes.

Spicy Walnut Pesto


  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 cloves roughly chopped garlic
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 3/4 tsp – 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan or other hard cheese


  1. Wash and dry your basil leaves.
  2. In the bowl of your food processor, place the walnuts, garlic, basil, salt and pepper.
  3. Process for 15 seconds or until everything is roughly chopped.
  4. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed.
  5. Add the cheese, and puree for a minute.
  6. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator or freezer with a little bit of olive oil on top. This will keep air out of the pesto which can ruin it.

Leave a Reply