Friday, March 25, 2016

Walnut & Parsley Pesto – “A” Pesto, Not “The” Pesto

When someone hears the word pesto, they think of that delicious, but oh so common, basil, garlic, pine nut paste. While that particular pesto is amazing, I hope this walnut and parsley version serves as a reminder that “pesto” is not a recipe, but a technique.

First, grind some garlic and salt into a paste with a mortar and pestle. This releases the full fury of raw garlic’s real flavor. Fair warning: this is some strong medicine, and I mean that literally. To that we add some kind of nuts. Walnuts give you a gorgeous, buttery flavor and texture, and pair beautifully with the aromatic, bittersweet parsley.

Finish to taste with lemon juice and/or vinegar, and olive oil. Loosen with a little water if desired, and season generously with salt. That’s pretty much it. Feel free to add cheese, but I like to keep this as is. It has the flavor and mouthfeel of a rich butter spread, and I think the cheese would get in the way.

You shouldn’t need any cayenne pepper, since raw garlic prepared in this manner is surprisingly hot, but as usual, that’s up to you. I really hope you give this ancient raw sauce a try soon. Enjoy!


Makes about 1 cup:
4 cloves garlic, sliced
large pinch kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
juice from one lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*to lighten, whisk in a few teaspoons of water

15 comments:

Robin Betts said...

Hmmm.... I wonder about a variation with walnut oil?

The Hyperbole said...

“pesto” is not a recipe, but a technique.

Marcella Hazan beg to differ.

Joanna said...

You are the c'est aux of your pesto.

Okay but really, I have a lot of pistachios and pecans, I may give this a try. Other more traditional pestos I've made require much more oil. I assume you use non roasted nuts since they have higher oil content?

vwolfe said...

where do you find freakishly small spoons ?

panos panagiotis said...

Hello from Greece,congrats for your blog!!!This pesto goes very well with fried fish in batter and u can use soaked and then squeezed ,bread in water added to all the ingredients ,except the parsley!!!

Anonymous said...

Okay...I REJECT your Walnut reality, and
I INSERT my own roasted Almond fantasy!

Roberto said...

No mortar and pestle in your kitchen? Just dice the garlic nice and fine, add a big pinch of coarse salt, and grind against the cutting board by pressing with the flat side of a stout chef's knife until you have a paste. The coarse salt does the work; takes about 15 seconds.

Anonymous said...

CHEF JOHN!!!!!!!!!!! <3

Anonymous said...

CHEF JOHN!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3 We love you! You've inspired us and brought happiness and deliciousness to our lives. And grueling debt. But I forgive you for that last part <3

Cheers and have a nice day, CJ. <3 <--Speaking of HEARTS..!!

I had a sheep's heart when I was a kid*, can you make a heart recipe?

*Don't worry, I had it surgically removed. I'm fine now.

araceli g said...

Where did you get yourmyrtle and pestle , I need one where 'm I find it

JulieBoolie said...

Knowing how to make "a" pesto with what is on hand is invaluable. One can easily dress up or enhance just about any plain protein dish. Made with a bit more oil, a pesto is an excellent addition for those of us eating in the LCHF manner. THANKS, Chef John.
And Vwolfe: I am betting you can find freakishly small wooden spoons at an Asian restaurant supply store.

Autumn said...

Thanks for the recipe, Chef John! My family uses your recipes all the time!!

Quick question: How long do you think this would keep in the fridge? (I thought a week??)

I ended up tweaking a bit and added some chard because we had some that needed to be used-- being the boss of my own sauce, after all. Very excited to eat it tonight on pasta!

Mia Galbraith-Liss said...

Just ate this on a piece of toasted peasant levain with some radish slices on top... Possibly one of the most delicious, simple lunches I have ever had.

Pegs Barton said...

No parmesan? I thought all pesto had parmesan. Is it optional?

Neil Rothschild said...

No basil?

You should have been hung at sunrise, like all traitors and revolutionaries! But if it were up to me I'd commute that sentence just because that olive wood mortar and pestle is so much more elegant than my marble one.

Yes, I'm upset about that, only because I have 4 overgrown potted basil plants and I'm searching for a recipe that will use a ton of basil and freeze well...

(Forgive my humor, I'm a huge fan of your site and techniques...)