Italy: Pesto Genovese With Walnuts

Tamara Novacoviç with a walnutty take on the classic Pesto Genovese.
Text And Photo By Tamara Novacoviç

I consulted my friend the Internet and found that Pesto sauce originates in Genoa, in the Liguria region of northern Italy. The name is connected to the word pestâ (Italian: pestare), which means to poundto crush, in reference to the original method of preparation, with marble mortar and wooden pestle.

Original Pesto Genovese is made with fresh basil leavesolive oilpine nutsParmesan cheese and Pecorino cheese. However, there are many variations on the theme today. You can actually use rocket, parsley or spinach leaves to make pesto plus some other nuts. There is also a version called pesto rosso, which uses less basil leaves and tomatoes and almonds.

You can use pesto in all kinds of meals. For me, it enhances every meal and makes everything smell and taste great, I’m a huge pesto fan. You can pour it over fish, potatoes, salads, pasta, rice…

I made my pesto with walnuts instead of pine nuts. You will get approximately 350 ml of sauce. This pesto was used for pesto rolls, you might have seen the recipe in one of my previous posts.

Pesto Genovese
Prep Time
Total Time
You can use pesto in all kinds of meals. For me, it enhances every meal and makes everything smell and taste great, I’m a huge pesto fan. You can pour it over fish, potatoes, salads, pasta, rice…
Recipe Type: Appetizer
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • some sea salt
  • 3 cups (150 g) fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup (50 g) Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup (30 g) Pecorino cheese
  • ⅓ cup (50 g) walnuts (you can use some other nuts)
  • 7 tbsp (100 ml) olive oil
  • pinch of nutmeg
  1. I took my mortar and pestle and crushed 2 cloves garlic with some sea salt.
  2. I then added 150 g fresh basil leaves and crushed them.
  3. I added 50 g of grated Parmesan cheese and 30 g of Pecorino cheese with 50 g walnuts (which I used instead of pine nuts), a pinch of nutmeg. I crushed everything together and in the end combined it with 100 ml of olive oil.
Tamara Novakoviç

Tamara Novakoviç

Tamara Novakovic is a passionate self-taught cook, food blogger, freelance food writer and photographer behind bite-my-cake.blogspot.com. Her life journey has led her through Faculty of Humanities in Zagreb, Croatia to discovering passion for making cakes. She is currently a weekly food columnist for Croatian newspaper V magazine and food magazine Repete.

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Originally Published: May 3, 2011

7 Responses to Italy: Pesto Genovese With Walnuts

  1. Joan Nova

    Joan Nova Reply

    May 3, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Without knowing it had a name, I made the pesto rosso tonight. I agree with it’s good on everything. Another good use for pesto is as a spread on a sandwich.

  2. laura Reply

    May 6, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    oooo curious. i like the interchangeability of these ingredients. right now i’m wondering about no cheese and more nuts? hmm…. bookmarked with my cookmarked.com accoun!

    • Tamara Novakoviç

      Tamara Novakoviç Reply

      May 7, 2011 at 8:07 am

      I’m glad you like it and bookmarked it! I discovered tis cookmarked site through your comment and will explore it :)

  3. Sara Clevering

    Sara Reply

    May 13, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Walnuts are a great substitution for economic reasons too–I don’t know about Croatia, but here in the US they only seem to be going up in price!

    • Tamara Novakoviç

      Tamara Reply

      June 1, 2011 at 8:46 am

      You’re right, Sara. This year the price of walnuts has gone crazy in Croatia too! Their price is the same as hazelnuts now, it’s crazy. Almonds are currently least expensive. Throughout years, walnuts were the cheapest, but this season it changed.

  4. Sarah Kenney

    Sarah Kenney Reply

    June 1, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Walnut pesto sounds delicious. I love it mixed with hot pasta.

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