Walnut Herb Pesto
What to do with old food magazines?
For years they sat on the shelf and I would occasionally peruse them to search for a new concept or favorite old recipe, but mostly they just sat there taking up space. Last winter I declared them the low-hanging fruit of Clearing and Cleaning, so for a series of mornings I sat down with my coffee, a fun-looking notebook, and the piles of magazines and proceeded to flip through them and scribble ideas into the notebook.
I deliberately did not write the full recipes, just the combinations that piqued my curiosity or that I thought were interesting. Partly this was because of a time constraint but mostly it was to simply have a collection of inspirations with which I could experiment—to give a spark but then to force me to feel out the way forward, to taste and adjust, and to pay attention to what was needed:
Vanilla in rice. Meatballs with Paprika Saffron Sauce. Cucumber Watermelon Salad with Hoisin Sauce. Pears poached in Earl Grey. Yam puree with Wasabi. Lemon Date Sumac Relish.
YES! We all need ways to keep our minds pliable and open to the creative river.
This pesto is from that notebook list. Recently I found what I think was the original recipe, but this version has been altered by the Forced Creativity technique.
Soaking walnuts leaches out some of the tannins, breaks down the phytic acid so we can better absorb the nutrients, and neutralizes the enzymes to make them more digestible. Not to mention they TASTE sweeter and more delicious without the weird tannin-dry-mouth that can happen with walnuts.
Soak the walnuts in warm water and a little salt at least 20 minutes and up to a few hours. Salt boosts flavor but it also helps ‘activate enzymes to deactivate the enzyme inhibitors present in nuts’ (say that ten times fast). Drain the nuts then dehydrate, or set in a low temperature oven until dry. The results are most definitely worth the extra step.
All this greenery and no place to go.
Dill, chives, mint, oregano, parsley—a powerhouse spring medly to brighten your day. All of these beauties are superheroes of the nutrient and detox universe, so eat up. For weeks I’ve been thinking of making this pesto but was waiting until the volunteer herbs in my garden were big enough to harvest, and local growers filled in the rest. Finally I was able to whip this together and after one bite I could not stop–it was then slathered on everything from toast to garbanzo beans. The potent greenery felt like the perfect bump that I needed, the boost of life after a long winter!
Don’t worry if all of these fresh herbs are not accessible to you, experiment with what you have to blend with the walnuts, garlic, cheese and oil. And enjoy.
Walnut Herb Pesto
Prep Time: 30 minutes, plus soak time of 30 minutes to a few hours
Cook Time: a few hours to dry the Walnuts
Soaking the Walnuts (including extra)
Mix together in a bowl
2 cups Walnuts
3-4 cups warm Water (enough to cover them)
1 1/2 teaspoons Sea Salt or Real Salt
Stir to dissolve the salt then soak for at least 30 minutes and up to a few hours.
Drain, then spread nuts onto a cookie sheet.
Use a dehydrator or place in an oven on the lowest temperature setting.
Stir a few times and remove when nuts are fully dry. Use what is needed for the pesto, store the rest in a cool place in a tight container.
Pulse-chop in a food processor:
1 cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
1/4 cup Fresh Dill, chopped
1/4 cup Fresh Oregano, chopped
1/4 cup Fresh Chives, chopped
1/4 cup Fresh Mint, chopped
(or experiment with the fresh green herbs that you have)
1/2 cup Walnuts, soaked and dried
1-3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Lemon Juice
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt, or to taste
A few sprinkles of Crushed Red Chiles
Turn on the food processor and drizzle in:
1/2 cup Olive Oil
Transfer to a bowl and stir in:
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
Taste and adjust.
Serve on crackers, pasta, crostini, eggs, potatoes, toast…to name just a few.
“Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up.”