Basil and Oregano Pesto with Walnuts Recipe


  Basil pesto

image courtesy of

This recipe originated when I was Chef at Steven Restaurant in Scottsdale Arizona.

We used this to toss with pasta, marinate chicken breasts, mix in meatballs, add to sauces, create herb marinades and compound butters.

It is easy to see how by changing some herbs you can create a whole new taste.  Try substituting rosemary instead of oregano and add some fresh thyme!

Don't like the nuts, simply leave them out and add more cheese.  Why not create a Greek version with Feta and Olives!  I better stop!  If you want these versions I would be happy to add them to the posts!  Just let me know!

Basil and Oregano Pesto with Walnuts  print version

2 bunch fresh Basil picked
1 bunch fresh Oregano picked
1 oz peeled fresh Garlic
2 oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 oz of Walnuts or Pine Nuts
Juice of 1 lemon
4 oz good quality Olive Oil

In a food processor or blender place the Basil, Oregano, Garlic and Olive Oil.

Blend until chopped fine, if you like a smoother Pesto let it blend or process longer.

Proceed by adding the cheese and then the Walnuts, this will thicken up the mixture.

If you want a looser Pesto add more oil slowly.  If you don't care for Oregano substitute 1/2 flat Italian parsley.

The classic method using a Mortaio and Pestello

Below is a video which shows you the classic way of making Pesto with a Mortaio and Pestello! This creates a texture which is by far superior than blending or processing.  Sure its more work but it is a labor of love and may be done as a demonstration before your guests while they enjoy a glass of wine and wait in anticipation for you to create fresh cooked pasta tossed with this wonderful classic sauce.

In order to allow the full release of its aromatic leaves the basil should be crushed by hand in the Mortaio by means of a wooden stick called "Pestello". The movement of the wrist is very important. It should be a round movement, allowing you squeeze the leaves while crushing them. You gradually pour some Extra Virgin Olive Oil, then put some sea salt and again continue with the milling, finally pour in the Parmesan cheese along with the Pine Nuts and some more Olive Oil. The result should be a creamy Pesto, thick but not hard solid.

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