Thursday, June 19, 2008

Walnut and Garlic Pesto Pasta - You're Nuts If You Think There's Only One Kind of Pesto

While you may only be familiar with one kind, pesto is a very generic term that simply refers to any sauce that is made by pounding or grinding the ingredients, usually with a mortar and pestle. In fact, the word "pesto" comes from the Italian word for "pound." While the garlic and oil base is a constant, there are many variations using different combinations of herbs and nuts.

This extremely simple version uses fresh garden herbs, garlic and walnuts for a delicious, albeit plain looking bowl of pasta. As you hear me say in the video recipe, not everything has to be colorful, to be good. This is about as unimpressive looking plate of food as I have ever put to film, but it should be appreciated for what it is - a simple, rustic, nutty, garlicky, tangle of goodness. Enjoy!

12 oz dry spaghetti
1/2 cup mixed fresh Italian herbs - basil, oregano, mint, tarragon, parsley, etc.
6 cloves garlic
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan
hot pepper flakes


Steffen P said...


A great variation is an almond and watercress pesto, which is unbelieveable over roasted new potatoes..

Chef John said...

sounds great!

Anonymous said...

Looks amazing...
but a lot of work just for a pasta dish ;)

Chef John said...

work? The pesto takes like 5 minutes to mix up! Totally worth it.

Anonymous said...

You're nuts ... not your nuts

Chef John said...

Opps! "Your" right!! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hey chef John, thanks for another great post - I'm a huge fan!

I did notice a spelling error on your site though. On the right hand bar, it should read Free video recipe categories, not catagories.

Have a great day!

Chef John said...

Thanks! Sure, I guess you could spell it with an e.

Blood Red Roses said...

hah, I love the funky music intro and outro.

Anonymous said...

It's not the size of your pestle, it's how you use it!!

Anonymous said...

I made this today and I'm totally in LOVE with this!! Oh my gosh, I can't thank you enough. This became my new favourite pasta!

Thanks chef John! ^^

Collin said...

Hi Chef John,

Was wondering if you have use the Pesto from Knorr before. Its really phenomenal; it makes any pasta a heaven.

I have been searching high and low for this pesto in Singapore and heard and its only imported to cafe like Coffee Club.

You can see the picture of the pesto here. Please let me know if you have came across, would love to see your comments on it.


Chef John said...

no, ive never seen it. I will look, thanks!

Wouter Groeneveld said...

Hi John,

I recently came across your website while googling some recipe, awesome stuff here! I tried to make a 'classic' pesto but both times the raw garlic flavor kind of ruined it for me. First time I did add way too much cloves (10?) and too little basil leaves. Later I retried that with only one clove and more nuts but the flavor was still too strong. Is there some kind of rule on how much basil compared to garlic or something like that?


Chef John said...

this is how pesto is... it's very intense. there are no rules for amounts, it's all personal taste. you just may not like pesto!

Carlos said...

Hi John,

I tried this earlier this Spring and, man, is this a great, tasty pasta recipe! Thank you. Just made it again last night. Was wondering what you could suggest to help me keep the pasta warm once I transfer it to a plate and start mixing in the pesto, parm, etc with the two forks..(I did make sure to retain a bit of water in the pasta when draining and I'm sure that helps..but still have trouble keeping it warm enough by the time everything is plated and ready to eat).

Thanks again,


Simon said...

Hi Chef John thanks for this recipe. My twin brother and I made it when I got back from college and we loved it.
I dont know if you have ever tried this before but Sriracha was absolutely amazing with your pesto recipe.

Just something to try when your looking for a little more kick.

Best wishes

Victor said...

Tasty recipe, I love it.
What's going on with the Starsky and Hutch music? :P

Antonio said...

Hi Chef John, do I need to toast the walnuts first? Thank you!