Red Walnut Pesto

A chunky style pesto consisting of walnuts, roasted garlic, kale, parsley, and red pepper flakes. Blended together with sunflower oil and tossed into hot pasta for a quick and easy weeknight meal.

I love pesto and I mainly love its versatility. Pesto is one of those things that I always have the ingredients for and if I don’t its such a simple swap out that it always has a place on the menu. For this pesto i decided to try something different. I initially set out to make chicken parmesan but after realizing I was out of crushed tomatoes I had to pivot. Then I noticed the huge supply of roma tomatoes I had and figured I’d make due with them but change it up. So I did! This recipe is definitely a keeper it is truly packed full of veggies, delicious and super easy. Plus since it’s fresh tomatoes and no canned it cuts down its cooking time in half. Traditionally pesto is green with parsley and basil then you thicken and flavor it with herbs, oils, nuts and cheeses. This recipe is basically a cross between a pesto and romesco sauce minus the peppers. Its a lovely addition to any pasta night. This wonderful pesto might just turn out to be your new favorite. Make sure to check out my tips an tricks below for the best red walnut pesto. Try this recipe out and let me know what you think!

TIPS & TRICKS FOR THE BEST RED WALNUT PESTO:

don’t burn the garlic, red pepper flakes and walnuts: to start the sauce off i like to toast my garlic, walnuts and red pepper flakes for a few reasons. Initially cooking the walnut and garlic help wake up the dormant flavors. and since this sauce no longer cooks after its blended you have to get that in ahead of time. what’s left after you remove the onions and walnuts is a infused oil to build flavor off of.

let everything cool!: the key to keeping everything vibrant, keeping it cool is key. so once the sauteed tomatoes and kale are removed from the pan let it cool down. the colder the better.

stem the kale: you may be like me and really enjoy the stems of greens. but in something like this it can be overwhelming and bitter. remove as much as the kale stem as you can as it can be really earthy and woody in this dish. freeze the stems for smoothies later.

acid and parsley last: although this is a red pesto keeping the greens, green really help it pop. so add the parsley last as well as the acid. the parsley should be added last to keep it from browning and bruising. the acid changes the colors too so add that last but don’t forget it.

chunky or smooth: pesto varies from person to person. some like it lose and some like it chunky. if you like to see what’s in it put it in the food processor that way it wont blend everything together. if you like it smooth throw it in the blender. just make sure to use the recipe and directions as a guideline.

SIMILAR INGREDIENTS TO:

  1. GARLIC PESTO SPAGHETTI W/ GRILLED CHICKEN
  2. ROASTED CHICKEN & HALOUMI TOPPED W/ CALABRIAN CHILI PESTO
  3. PISTACHIO PESTO FETTUCCINI WITH SHRIMP.

ENJOY THIS RECIPE WITH:

  1. CRISPY CHICKEN W/ CAPER & GARLIC GREMOLATA
  2. CHICKEN PARMESAN CHICKEN TENDERS
  3. CRISPY CHICKEN W/ RICOTTA AND FRIED SPICY SALAMI

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2c Walnuts, whole
  • 10 Garlic Cloves, whole
  • 8 Roma Tomatoes, diced
  • 1 Bunch Parsley, stemmed
  • 1c Kale, stemmed and chopped
  • 1/4c Green Olives, minced
  • 1/2c Sunflower Oil
  • 1Tb Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1Tb Red Wine Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

DIRECTIONS

  • ROAST: Start off pesto by adding 3Tb oil to a sauté pan. Add in garlic and walnuts. Cook for about 10 minutes on medium low heat till garlic starts to color and walnuts start to darken and turn aromatic.
  • REMOVE: Remove walnuts and garlic from the pan. Increase temperature of the pan then add in kale, green olives, and tomatoes. Sauté for about 15 minutes till. tomatoes and kale start to soften then season with salt and pepper
  • COOL: Remove kale and tomatoes and let cool with garlic and walnuts.
  • BLEND: Add all cooked ingredients to the food processor. While the blender is on low add in sunflower oil. Once the oil is added to the tomatoes and kale add in parsley and parmesan and pulse till fully incorporated into the sauce.
  • SEASON: Add in red wine vinegar and pulse once. Season generously with salt and pepper. Toss into warm pasta noodles and top with more parm!

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