Walnut and Basil Pesto

We’ve given this traditional basil pesto recipe a twist by replacing pine nuts with walnuts which are often cheaper and easier to find.

Basil Basics

  • Basil is crucial to certain European cuisines, Italian in particular, but it also features in Indonesian, Thai and Vietnamese cooking. 
  • This delicate herb is added at the last moment before serving a dish because cooking destroys its unique flavour. For example, fresh basil leaves are added to pizza after it comes out of the wood-fired oven. 

Walnut & Basil Pesto

basil pesto
  • 40 g walnuts
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 60g fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 80g parmesan or grana padano cheese, finely grated
  • 125ml olive oil, plus more for storing
  • salt, to taste
  1. Toast the walnuts in a 150°C oven for 15 mins. Toss the nuts halfway through cooking time. 
  2. Take the nuts out of the oven and let cool. 
  3. Pound the garlic clove with a pinch of salt with a pestle and mortar until it’s a fine paste. 
  4. Add the nuts to the mortar and pound. 
  5. Place the chopped basil, parmesan, and garlic nut mixture into a food processor to blitz. 
  6. Keep the food processor running while slowly pouring in the olive oil. 
  7. Add salt if needed, and then transfer to a serving dish or glass jar. 
  8. If storing for later use, cover the surface of the pesto with extra olive oil. 

More Recipe Ideas

  • Fresh Basil & Tomato Caprese Salad
  • Watermelon, Basil & Feta Salad
  • Creamy Sundried Tomato & Basil Pasta


Nikita is a food writer, stylist & recipe developer based in Johannesburg.

Check out Nikita Singh’s blog here

See more of Nikita’s recipes on our site here

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