Without question, the hands-down favorite dish that I prepare for my family is my Turkey Pesto Sliders with Brown Sugar and Poppy Seed Glaze. They’re insanely delicious, but they call for an ingredient that has proven to be a little bit difficult to find in my neck of the woods:
Walmart definitely doesn’t carry it here. I’ve searched high and low at multiple stores trying to find a jar of the stuff, but I’ve never been successful in that endeavor. My Publix carries it, but they’re 45 minutes away from my house. Plus, the only place I’ve been able to find it there is on a tiny little table tucked away in the produce section along side a few other specialty spices and spreads. I was happy buying it there, but I always felt so nervous that one day I’d walk in and they wouldn’t carry those specialty goods any more.
In fact, one time they rearranged their produce section and removed the table with the pesto (without even consulting me first…so rude!) I thought for SURE that they had stopped carrying it. I almost had a conniption fit right there in front of the tomatoes and everybody! But I eventually found it on a little end cap nearby and bought almost every jar they had on the shelf out of fear and partial embarrassment. I don’t play when it comes to my pesto, y’all! That was too close of a call for me, and if I couldn’t get it there, I had no idea how I’d get my pesto fix.
When I was working full time, my boss brought in his lunch from home one day and was heating it up in the microwave. The aroma from his food filled the room, and I couldn’t help but notice that it smelled exactly like my jarred pesto at home. I walked in his office and asked him if he happened to be eating something with pesto in it. When he said yes, I asked where he found his pesto at. He looked at me a little puzzled and said, “Uh, I make my own.” It was almost as if I was silly for even asking such a thing! But honestly, it had never even occurred to me until that very moment that I could, in fact, make my own pesto.
So I asked him how he did it and made a few mental notes. Flash forward to the present day and here I am with a garden full of fresh basil plants ready to be turned into homemade jars of pesto! I recalled that he used pine nuts in his recipe, but I was appalled at the price of them at my grocery store. I decided to substitute walnuts to see if I could tell much a difference. Folks, I actually like this stuff BETTER than the original jarred pine nut variety that I was using. I don’t know that I’ll ever go back to the old stuff!
Here’s a printable version of my recipe for walnut basil pesto. It’s super simple and pretty quick to throw together. I’m telling you, you’ll never want to make pesto any other way!
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves - packed
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 1 tsp minced garlic (equivalent of 2 cloves)
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 2 Tbs butter
- ¾ cup shreded Parmesan cheese
- 2-3 dashes of salt
- Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until completely combined.
- Add to your favorite pasta dish or use in your favorite recipe!
- Store leftover contents in an airtight container
The first time I made this pesto, I noticed that it wasn’t quite as oily as the stuff that I used to buy in the jar. My husband did a little research and learned that this is because they often put extra oil in the jars to help preserve the basil and keep any extra air from getting to the leaves. Truthfully, I think it’s SO much better when it’s thick and not so oily. I really appreciate the freshness and richness of the flavors melding together now that I’ve made my own!
Didn’t it turn out just lovely? I’m a little bit tempted to take a jar to my former boss and see if he’s ever tried pesto with walnuts. I know he’d love it! Now when I make those scrumptious pesto sliders for my family, we’ll really be licking our fingers and asking each other to pass the pesto!
Try these recipes with your fresh pesto:
What is your favorite way to eat pesto? I’d LOVE to hear about a new pesto recipe! Have you ever tried it using walnuts in place of pine nuts? Leave a comment below!