A non-traditional, easy pesto recipe
One day, I really had a craving for pesto. I had just bought some hazelnuts and fresh basil at the local farmer’s market. I decided to make it using hazelnuts which are not typically associated with pesto sauce, but equally as satisfying as the traditional pine nut. In fact, toasting the hazelnuts creates an even deeper and toasty quality that makes you rethink how pesto can be made with this easy pesto recipe. Well, maybe not peanuts. But then again, I do enjoy a tasty peanut-based sauce in some Asian cuisines, so why not! The pesto possibilities are endless.
Add cheese to this easy pesto recipe or leave it out if you want
This dish is quick, easy, and delicious. It is packed with healthy fat from the nuts which are well-balanced with the tart and sweet tomatoes. Furthermore, adding parmesan cheese is totally optional. If you prefer the cheesy taste without the dairy, just replace the parm with some nutritional yeast. Plus, you can use any pasta you have in the pantry. I chose cavatappi pasta because they’re all cute and squiggly, but any other pasta will do just as well.
So many ways to eat pesto
Pesto. It’s one of those easy, yet fragrant and robust sauces. It can be paired with practically anything for an elevation in flavor and elegance. I would almost consider it a staple ingredient because it can be used in practically any savory dish. For example:
- Salads–mixed in with the dressing
- Sandwiches–as a spread in place of mayonnaise
- Soups–a dollop on top will do
- Eggs–because, really, is there anything that eggs do not pair well with?
- Vegetables–to give an amazing boost in flavor and tasty, nutty fats
I hope you go nuts over this easy pesto recipe!
- 2 c uncooked pasta of choice (Cavatappi was used)
- 1 c grape and/or cherry tomatoes, assorted colors
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 TB fresh chives or basil
- 1/2 c hazelnuts (lightly toasted is optional)
- 3 c fresh basil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 c parmesan, grated
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- Boil the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Reserve a 1/4 cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta.
- Toast the nuts. In a large skillet, toast the hazelnuts on medium heat for 6-7 minutes, tossing them occasionally until evenly golden brown. Place them on a plate to cool.
- Blister the tomatoes. In the same skillet, carefully wipe out any remaining hazelnut husks (if needed). Turn the heat to med-hi and add oil to the skillet. Once the oil is rippling, add the tomatoes (be careful, they will splatter so stand back!). Gently move them around in the pan until they blister (their skins burst and the juices begin to flow out of them). Add salt to taste, stir, and remove the skillet from the heat.
- Make the pesto. In a large food processor, add garlic and pulse until minced. Next, add the nuts, basil, parmesan, half of the oil, salt, and pepper, and pulse until the mixture is a semi-smooth consistency. Continue to pulse while slowly adding the remaining oil. Blend until smooth or to the desired consistency.
- Dress the pasta. Combine the pesto with the pasta and the reserved pasta water. Add additional parmesan, if desired, and stir until the pasta is thoroughly coated. Top with the blistered tomatoes and chives.
- Vegan: 2-3 tbsp of nutritional yeast in place of the parmesan cheese
Tips 'n' Tricks
- If time permits, allow the pesto to sit for at least 20 minutes for the flavors to develop before combining it with the pasta.
- If there is any remaining pesto, pour a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over the top to preserve it longer in the refrigerator.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 492Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 33gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 720mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 4gSugar: 2gProtein: 9g
The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used. I am not a doctor, nor a certified nutritionist and make no claims to the contrary. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. Please consult your personal physician with any questions you may have regarding your own health and diet.