walnut-pesto Recipes

walnut pesto

I really, really like walnuts. They manage to be vaguely sweet but still meaty and they have this slight bitterness that goes with, well, everything. I like the way they round out the sweetness in these amazing walnut tartlets in the archives that I’m certain get overlooked by everyone but me, and contrast the sweet figs in this biscotti.

walnuts, garlic, parmesan, thyme...

But I think they get especially awesome in savory applications, and not just as an accent to pasta or a salad. This “pesto” caught my eye — in an article about wine bars moving beyond serving the ubiquitous olives and cheese plates, something I can totally get behind — because it’s not basil pesto with a few walnuts for good measure, it’s not an olive tapenade with crunch, it’s actually a base of coarsely ground walnuts picked up with garlic, sherry vinegar and sundried tomatoes.

walnut pesto

Even better, it took five minutes to put together which is equally perfect for those of you who are looking for some quick fixes for a New Years Eve party and those of, well, me who can only find about five minutes to spare each day, or at least until we hire a little extra help next month. Shh, don’t tell Jacob!

what?

Things on toasts, previously: Artichoke-Olive Tapenade, Feta Salsa and Creamed Mushrooms

For Your Next Party: All gathered in one place, and finally updated. Thanks Alex!

One year ago: Pecan Sandies
Two years ago: Caramel Cake
Three years ago: Coq Au Vin

Walnut Pesto Crostini
Adapted slightly from Jody Williams at Gottino in the West Village

Makes a dozen or so toasts

1 cup shelled walnuts, even better if you toast and cool them first
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
3 sprigs of thyme, cleaned
Salt
Small splash of sherry vinegar (I used a generous splash and felt it dominated too much; go easy)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced sun-dried tomatoes (oil or dry-packed will both work)
1 loaf country bread, or a baguette, sliced

In food processor, coarsely grind walnuts, cheese, garlic, thyme, salt and vinegar. Stir in oil and tomatoes.

Grill or toast bread. While hot, top each slice with a heaping teaspoon of pesto.

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133 comments on walnut pesto

  1. This sounds phenomenal…I seem to be in a phase where I only use pecans. As much as I love them, I’d all but forgotten about how wonderful walnuts can be until now. So thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Candace

    Holy cow, he’s gorgeous. Look at that hair!

    (and we’re enjoying the hell out of the creamed mushrooms on chive butter toast recipe you posted a bit ago. It’s fantastic AND I can make it with a two week old baby in the house. I think I’ll be trying this one soon. Thank you!)

  3. Kailee

    Oh, Deb. He is just gorgeous. I mean, look at that hair! Somehow managing to only get yourself into the kitchen, but also to blog about has to be quite the feat when you have such an adorable new housemate.

    Anyway, this looks marvelous. And I have all the necessary ingredients to boot. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Eileen

    Beautiful pesto, looking forward to trying this recipe. Also many thanks for the party food and brunch suggestions! I needed serious help 2 yrs ago when I attempted brunch for 8, eggs florentine was not a smart choice. The hideous cold eggs could not even be covered with the disgusting vat of layered yolks and melted butter. My friends have yet to let me forget it, but it’s been fun making it up to them, like with your filled stout cupcakes that are fabulous, by the way.

  5. Jen at Green with Greens

    That looks sooo good. I too love walnuts, so I will have to try this out.

    And that little man of yours….absolutely adorable! But I have a feeling you already know that.

  6. Selkie

    SO CUTE!!!!!!
    We (I am sure I speak for us all) LOVE the pics of Bebe; Thanks for sharing!
    (and yeah, I too read and make the recipes, but they wouldn’t be the same, just not so good, without the J pic!)

  7. Wow, your son looks so different in this photo – so contemplative. Amazing how a personality is so present… so early. Ah, life…
    And now that I am completely distracted, what was I going to say?
    Oh yes, thank you for the great holiday appetizer. This looks wonderful – as usual!
    xo Michaela

  8. Mary

    I love how Jacob looks like a tiny person, not just a baby. He is going to be such a handsome boy and man; we can already tell! It feels odd for this Grandma to be so nuts over an unrelated baby, when there’s a 5-month-old right within arm’s reach!

  9. Anne

    Looks wonderful! I just made the walnut/marjoram pesto from 101 cookbooks last week, and it was also fantastic — equally easy. I highly recommend it.

  10. Nan

    Jacob just gets cuter by the post! I’m still in awe of his hair! I too love walnuts and will give this one a go – but I love seeing Jacob even more! Happy New Years!

  11. Perfect! With a glass of wine and a bite like this, I could die happy. Well, with that plus having help with my kid–good for you for hiring someone! I need to get on that train.

    Maybe I will hire someone specifically to watch my kid while I drink wine and eat walnut pesto on toast. Now THAT’s living.

  12. I worked in a fancy kitchen store growing upl. We would set out samples of an awesome walnut pesto, and I would secretly eat it all! I never find any that I like better. Maybe I’ll try to make my own! Thanks for the great recipe.

  13. Leslie

    I don’t want to eat your walnut pesto, just pass the baby please! Please don’t block me from your site for wanting to nibble on those cheeks, okay?

  14. That sounds interesting. I’m not sure if I have enough people interested in nuts to make this, though I totally would make even more of the fig and walnut biscotti. I love it to pieces!

  15. so cute! i’m sorry to be posting about the baby rather than the food. but his face looks so much like a little boy instead of a baby, it’s remarkable. he’s adorable :)

    and i want to try this pesto.

  16. I, too, must comment about the baby before the food–SO CUTE. There’s something really … wise-looking about him. Is he calm? I picture him being a calm baby.

    This looks delicious! Though, I must confess, I’m still more tempted by the creamed mushroom tapenade. I started to make it the other day, only to discover that my mushrooms had gone bad. Tragic.

    I do, however, have some walnuts languishing in my fridge …

  17. I’m SO glad I clicked on this. I almost let it slide in my reader and thought I ought to at least have a look. WOW, does that sound good. And THANK YOU for the “all in one place” party link. Very helpful.

    Oh and Jacob’s not cute at all. Not completely adorable and totally pinchable. Nope not one bit. ;)

  18. Timely appetizer post for a girl who has to make appetizers for New Year’s eve dinner – at a yurt. Can make the pesto ahead and toast the bread on the wood stove. Light weight for packing in the 2.5 miles on skis, too. Yay!

  19. Oh man, my mom used to make something very similar when I was younger, and I always prayed for party leftovers so I could gobble it up. Thanks for the reminder; I’ll have to try this and get her recipe!

  20. you’re so amazing, posting all the time with your hands so full. i used to come here all the time for the food posts and now i’m not sure if i come here even more for a peek at the cutest baby boy ever. would happily babysit if we lived closer. too bad about those pesky new border rules.

  21. I love all the meatless recipes you’ve been posting lately. Not that i’m a vegetarian but I do appreciate it. Walnuts + sundried tomatoes sounds like a fantastic combination. Jacob’s hair is so cute! Happy New Year!

  22. Francheska

    Yeah yeah nice looking pesto but THE BABY, So cute what a solemn look he has there! The eyes reminded me of Sara Crewe, well not her, but the description of her eyes in the book

  23. Ms. S

    Hi!
    I’ve not commented before, though I’ve been reading since just before your cutie patootie was born.Just love his pix! Anyway, I too adore walnuts and will def make this next party time (looks delish), but I wanted to comment on your comment about your forgotten walnut tartlets. Actually, for Xmas I very much found the recipe and decided to tweak it to make cookies. Butter, flour, powdered sugar shortbread crust in in 13×9 pan par-baked: Doubled filling with nuts chopped rather small; Baked the hell outta it so everything got really richly dark brown; Cut into diamonds and Voila! New cookie for repertoire. I prob would keep the salt at just the 1/2 teasp. and the orange at the 2 teasp. for the doubled recipe next time, but sooo good. Do try!

  24. It’s really only this year that I learned to appreciate pesto – I think I was traumatized by all the overly basiled ones served in such large quantities that they drowned out everything else on the plate. Finally, realized this summer, after making a few myself that pesto is actually magical – can’t wait to try this one out!

  25. Rennie

    I love walnut pesto too! It’s great on the artichoke tortellini they sometimes have frozen at Trader Joes! My recipe is similar: walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil, romano cheese, and lemon zest. I love walnuts in sweet and savory applications.

  26. Brooke

    Do you hear a faint crying sound from the Southwest? That’s me, crying tears of joy. I had walnut pesto ten years ago in business class on British Airways and this was served, and I’ve had a yearning for it ever since. Every time I’ve looked for a recipe, something hasn’t seemed quite right – until now. Can’t wait to make this!! It’s almost like I have the two pounds of walnuts in my house with this in mind!

  27. Do you just take photos of that child when he’s being angelic, or is he ACTUALLY like that?! I mean, you’re getting close to convincing a died-in-the-wool anti-child woman that she might have to re-evaluate her life choices. Damn it. GOD but he’s adorable.

  28. Joanne

    Okay, I’ll bite and give this a try. I haven’t learned to appreciate walnuts, unless they are in banana bread. Also I’m glad to know I’m not the only one in awe of Jacob and his gorgeous head of hair. Oh boy, he’s a lucky little guy.

  29. Emily

    I LOVE walnuts. Hell, I love all nuts. I love pesto too. Any kind of pesto, really… So, this seems pretty much like a dream come true. It looks so yummy!

  30. See I hear tapenade, and immediately my brain starts screaming NO because I can’t do olives. Ick. This is a great alternative to that. I wish I’d had this for my Christmas party, I was wracking my brain for a winter solution to bruchetta, this would have done nicely.

  31. Mary

    Hi Deb-
    Have you ever tried the northern Italian (specifically Ligurian) sauce for pasta called salsa di noci? It sounds similar to the Bittman recipe mentioned above. It’s typically served on pansotti (as pansotti con salsa di noci) and it is SUBLIME. I feel you must try it!

  32. Kim M.

    Ok, Deb. I know I say this everytime you post a recipe since giving birth but…Jacob is the most beautiful baby on the planet!

    Oh- and I love walnuts, too! I can’t wait to try this pesto recipe…

  33. Angela (Oh She Glows)

    Jacob is too cute for words. You must be so ‘smitten’ I’m sure. ;) What a cutie! He does look a lot like you too.
    Great recipe. I may try making a vegan version substituting the P. cheese with nutritional yeast.

  34. Look at those wee little shoulders.

    I’m all over this walnut pesto–looks delicious. I love walnuts, and walnuts + toast seems like a pretty fabulous idea to me.

  35. Susan

    This looks so good! I love ground walnuts and use them in several savory dishes instead of pine nuts when called for. You are right, toasting them really brings out the flavor. It also takes away that slightly bitter edge and that acid gives some folks bumps on their tongue!

    Jacob appears to be looking at you with narrowed eyes! Uh oh! I think he might have overheard you talking about hiring someone. I’d apply if I lived closer! He’s a cutie!

  36. I can’t believe how much Jacob has grown! He’s so cute.

    This recipe sounds great for New Year’s Eve.The crunch is definitely calling to me.

    When I was a vegetarian, I relied on soaked nuts as one of my protein sources.

    Today I still soak walnuts overnight in salt water and then dehydrate them for whenever I need them. The soaking makes the nuts more digestible and their nutrients more accessible to the body.

    The soaked walnuts are sweeter than the unsoaked.

    Thank you for the recipe.

  37. Just ME

    I don’t know I might make this but mostly I read the blog to see the pretty pictures and dream of the day I make everythink on my list. I just had to say that your baby is really cute. I am not just saying that because I have three of my own and honestly there are not any cuter. What I love of about your pictures is that it reflects his old soul. i know that sounds odd but my oldest had an old soul and she still does. She is 19 and though not studying to be a neurosurgeon she is beyond her years when it comes to life.

  38. Debbie

    What a unique idea, can’t wait to try out the recipe. Walnuts are great for health too! I must say your little one Jacob is a doll, there is a wonderful sensitivity about his face. Beautiful!

  39. This does sound lovely….and I have a bunch of walnuts. Let’s see if I can add this to the list of NYE snackity snacks! That photo of Jacob, wow. I don’t know what light is behind you, sparkling in his eyes, but it’s a really cool shot. He looks mesmerized.

  40. Petra

    This is FANTASTIC — fabulous!! Your tastes and mine are completely in SYNC! Keep it coming! Oh, sweeter than sweet Jacob. What reflections would you be sharing if you could talk at this age? We shall have to wait a while longer to find out what is on your mind, you beautiful creature. :)

  41. Looks delicious and even though I have a NYE cocktail menu planned I always feel like I am going to run out. Jacob is like “help? did I hear the word help?”

  42. I am making this for my New Year’s weekend in Tahoe. I am also obessed with walnuts. One of my favorite snacks is walnuts toasted with olive oil, sea salt and a pinch of sugar.

    On a side note, that is the cutest baby photo I have EVER seen. Don’t tell my niece…

  43. Skylis

    Forget the pesto, I’d prefer to nosh on that sweet, earnest little face. I don’t eat dairy so I might have to try and adapt this wonderful sounding recipe. Thanks for the baby & food fix.

  44. Nicole

    I am here to admit that I have a walnut problem…. I eat them on anything and everything I can! Sprinkled on my oatmeal or ice cream, in my pancake batter or straight from the bag… I love to put them in a pan with some butter, brown sugar and vanilla and cook them until they become candied. (That makes them even BETTER on ice cream!) They have the perfect texture and a timid sweetness that makes them so addictive. I can’t wait to try them in something savory besides my salad. Thanks, from one walnut addict to another!

  45. Kathryn

    No reason is ever needed to post cute baby pics – he is adorable!

    I am putting the recipe on my appetizer wish list to try as I want to come up with something good, yet unique, for my son’s graduation in 2012 that will served along with the Funyons and Doritos that I know he and his friends will want.

  46. Oh, yes. Walnuts. I love them too. I put walnuts into everything: muhsroom pasta dishes, ice cream, bread dough, your ranch rugelachs (he he), etc.

    Funny eh, I’m actually making walnut pesto for dinner tonight, along with whole-wheat spaghetti: olive oil, parsley, chopped walnuts and grana padano – just sooooo good.

    And I’ll for sure try this toast version of yours!

    P.S. You saw already? You are a finalist for the AT home blog awards (Homies) in the “Home Cooking” category (http://homies.apartmenttherapy.com/2009/category/home-cooking). YAY. You got my vote already :)

    Thanks for the recipe & happy new year!

  47. My mouth is watering; this looks fabulous…what a beautiful baby picture…I’m going to create this tomorrow night for New Year’s Eve atop Gluten Free Crackers!
    Thank you and Happy New Year! Keep up the great work and blogging in 2010!
    Best,
    Amie

  48. Kathleen

    Love walnuts – what a great recipe. Just recently made the chocolate peanut butter cake. My entire family went gaga over it. And talk about going gaga…… Jacob is the most beautiful baby I have ever seen. How do you stand it???? Every time I see his adorable little face it makes my day!

  49. Maria

    is it wrong that i sometimes click on “continued after the jump” solely for a potential baby pic and NOT because i am interested in this particular recipe????? this is such a sweet picture. what a cutie. :-)

  50. Karen

    Great, versatile recipe! I was desperate for something unique to do with the chicken I had in the fridge. So I decided to grill the chicken and add the chicken along with this petso sauce to pasta. My husband loved it and couldn’t get enough. I will definitely do this combination again. Thanks for your great ideas. I cook from your recipes regularly!

  51. Nancy

    I made this last night on a whim to take to a NYE party. It didn’t hurt that I had everything called for in the recipe except the sherry vinegar. After doing a little online searching it seemed like a workable substitute would be equal parts red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar so that’s what I used. The garlic was fairly assertive but not overpowering but I second the note that it should be a small clove. The pesto was delicious and a sure hit (as all of your recipes are that I’ve tried!). Sure doesn’t hurt that it’s gluten free either since I’ve got several friends who have to live that lifestyle. I served it on rice crackers for them and on crostini for the rest of us. YUM!!!

    Jacob is a very lucky little boy! He will grow up on your chocolate peanut butter cake and walnut pesto among all the other wonderful things his mama makes and shares with us.

  52. Jean-Ann

    Awesome! Made it tonight and it was great. My husband who doesn’t typically like nuts loved it! Thank you…Happy New Year!

  53. I just made this pesto with a few shifts for my family’s New Year’s Day open house. The difference was my father does home made oven dried tomatoes from our garden so I put those in and it was wonderful. Since it wasn’t on the main table, the guests didn’t eat it but that means there’s more for my family. A fantastic recipe and so easy. Thank you, I love seeing what’s on your site every day.
    Kate

  54. Kim

    Oooh, I have all of these ingredients on hand and will make these today!

    It has been bitter cold here, too, so I’m cooking up a storm to keep busy.

  55. Annabelle

    I made this tonight to go over wholewheat spaghetti for a quick dinner. It was delicious! Since this is post holiday season (read ‘damage control’), I decreased the amount of oil and thinned out the pesto with some of the pasta cooking water. Yum! the whole thing dissapeared in a matter of minutes. I will increase the quantities next time…..it was just barely enough for the 3 kids and me. Can you say Omega 3? Thanks Deb!

  56. Wonderful pesto. I never really liked walnuts until I started to bring those super-sweet walnuts from Slovakia. Now I love to use them in desserts or salads. I should try this pesto as well!
    The baby is so cute! I love that soft, silky hair :)

  57. KT

    What a cutie your little Jacob is! My first nephew was born around the same time, also very cute, also named Jacob, but he has not a hair on his head. :)

  58. Glenda

    I made this over the holidays – everyone thought they were pine nuts! All the richness, half the cost! And besides, has anyone EVER toasted a pine nut without burning the little (#*$*# the first time? I swear I looked at them a second ago and they were fine! Now they’re $8 of charcoal!
    Rave reviews for this recipe, will be a mainstay as ingredients are always on hand in my kitchen. Thanks Deb!

  59. meg

    I had some Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive tapenade and used this in the recipe. Backed off a little on the salt and oil, and it came out totally fabulous! It’s extremely rich and tasty.

  60. I was inspired by your walnut pesto recipe but I didn’t have it in me to drive to the grocer to pick up some necessary ingredients, so I improvised. I always have a good supply of walnuts on hand as I put them in at least 70% of the meals I eat plus I love to share them with my macaw who screams for them…NUTS!!!!!
    I can’t eat cheese (yeah, a REAL bummer) so I had to omit that. I added onions & garlic, thyme, a tad of olive oil & walnuts to a hot skillet. I didn’t have sun-dried tomatoes so I chopped up a heap of 2 kinds of mushrooms. I didn’t have any sherry vinegar either so I threw in some red wine before adding the shrooms….and I drank a glass of wine while the shrooms cooked. It made my kitchen smell good! I toasted my bread slices and brushed them with olive oil & a tad bit of balsamic vinegar before heaping on my walnut-shroom topping. It came out pretty good, but it really needed parmesan cheese to be a hit.
    I’m definitely going to try your recipe as written (sans Parmesan) as soon as I can get to the grocer and stock up on some sun-dried tomatoes….and more wine. :)
    Cheers to you!

  61. Laura

    Yum! I made it this weekend for a get together I was having and it was a hit! It was so easy to put together too! This is definitely going in my recipe binder. Thank you!

  62. Abby

    I made this last night. Great recipe, one tip: If you use oil-packed sundried tomatoes, cut back on the olive oil! It was a huge success with my guests, but I had to let it sit so all of the extra oil could collect in the bottom of the bowl before spooning it onto the bread.

    I also added about 5x the recommended amount of thyme and I doubled the parmesan. This was partly in an effort to absorb oil, but it worked well. As for sherry vinegar, I found that around 6-8 drops worked well.

    Thanks for the great site and great recipes!

  63. Katie

    Just made this for a treat the night before being snowed in. This is awesome and so easy. I’m bringing this to the next get-together I go to.

  64. Jill

    These also go fantastically with the crisp rosemary flatbread! I took them to a party tonight and both were hits, especially together.

  65. Linda

    This is sooo very tasty! I threw all the ingredients in the food processor (except the olive oil) and substituted white wine vinegar. The mixture ended up being more finely than coarsely chopped, which I thought worked out quite well. I spread the pesto on thin, oven-toasted slices of a wheat berry baguette.

  66. Some other blogger posted this recipe and photo as her own. I started checking her out because she took one of my recipes/photo with credit to herself (her profile says “all recipes are mine unless otherwise noted”). She has disabled comments and does not have an email on her profile (I wonder why…). If you find a way to contact her, please let me know, I want to tell her to STOP stealing other people’s work. http://domesticblissinoregon.blogspot.com/2010/03/crostini-w-walnut-pesto.html

  67. Melissa

    I just made this for a reception and it got rave reviews. I added maybe twice as many sun-dried tomatoes as the recipe calls for – I found that it cut the bitterness of my walnuts well.

  68. Christian

    I made the pesto tonight, and it was great! I doubled the portions so that I’d have enough for a large batch of pasta. I couldn’t find sherry vinegar, so substituted red wine vinegar. It took a few large splashes of red wine vinegar to do the job, but that’s probably because I added to much salt.

  69. Elise

    This pesto is absolute divinity. I made it last night and will be making it again tonight, not to mention many more moons to come. Thanks for posting!

  70. StevenHB

    Made this during halftime of the Patriots / Ravens game yesterday (nuts toasted; minus the thyme, which I just didn’t have in the house; and minus the salt, which I thought was unnecessary given the cheese). Easy and *excellent*.

  71. Vidya

    Yum. As a vegan who avoids over processed foods, nut pestos are a fantastic substitute for cheese in baked pasta and lasagna dishes. No funky plastic cheese substitutes, just natural, delicious richness. And I love that this is very much about the walnuts, not basil! I’ll probably try this by omitting the cheese and upping the walnuts and sundried tomatoes.

  72. bergamot

    This was delicious. I made the recipe as described (so good) and then another batch without the parmesan for a friend who can’t have dairy (obviously not as good but still very tasty). Thanks!

  73. Kiley

    Screw the pesto…That Little boy is SOOO adorable. I am sure he looks nothing like that now but I want to snuggle all over him! Actually I think I saw some more recent photos of him the other day while looking at some of your food photos.

    Keep up all the great work!

    k2

  74. Allison

    The walnut pesto is TO DIE FOR! My family can’t get enough! We had to sub. red wine vinegar because we couldn’t find the sherry vin. Still excellent!

  75. melissa

    i made this for a potluck and it got rave reviews. i’m thinking of making it again very soon, it was THAT delicious. and i did it the lazy girl way, with dried thyme and un toasted walnuts. and good advice on the sherry vinegar – a little goes a long way.