Nutty Parsley Pesto

Don’t get hung up on the word pesto. While it traditionally made with basil and pine nuts the word can refer to any “sauce” made from a similar blending or pounding process. Words evolve, just as we now make pesto in a food processor instead of a mortar and pestle.

[Nutty Parsley Pesto]

The original recipe called for a cup of walnuts. We have a friend who is allergic to black walnuts so we don’t risk it even though supermarket walnuts rarely contain black walnuts. A mix of nuts works perfectly well, just give them a nice toasting before you add them to the food processor.

Nutty Parsley Pesto
Servings: a generous cup
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes


  • 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 cup unsalted nuts (I used pistachios, cashews and pine nuts)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves (packed), washed and dried thoroughly
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Add unskinned garlic to a medium skillet. Heat skillet over medium heat, shaking occasionally, for 7-9 minutes. Garlic will be spotty brown and should just begin to soften. Set aside garlic to cool; peel.
  2. Wipe out pan and return to medium heat. Add the nuts, shaking frequently, for 4-5 minutes. Nuts should be golden brown and fragrant.
  3. Combine peeled garlic, nuts, and parsley in a food processor. Process with 5 1-second pulse to break up ingredients. Add oil and process until smooth. Add cheese; process for 5 additional 1-second pulses.
  4. Taste; adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as desired.

If your pesto still seems dry even after adding all the oil add a tablespoon or two of hot water and process to incorporate.

An hour or two in the fridge does wonders for this sauce. While we serve it with grilled chicken you could also toss with pasta or serve it along side a nice piece of fish.

This recipe is based on one I found in one of the many copies Cook’s Illustrated magazine we have kicking around the house.

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