Mint-walnut pesto

Mint-walnut pesto

I came up with this recipe a few years ago, when I’d had a bumper-harvest of mint. It’s truly heavenly, and not as minty as you might think. Along with the mint, I add parsley, meaty walnuts, a bit of lemon zest to balance the flavors, garlic (a must), Parmesan and my favorite roasted walnut oil from La Tourangelle. All this makes a deliciously creamy and incredibly luxurious pesto.

Of course, I’ve served this pesto with pasta — that’s the obvious choice. But I’ve also paired it with goat cheese ravioli (sublime!), grilled vegetables, fried eggs, pizza… and even though I’m a veg, I can imagine it with pan-seared fish or grilled chicken kebabs. The possibilities seem endless.

Mint in bowl

Mint-walnut pesto

makes 1 1/2 cups
active time: 15 min

  1. 2 teaspoons sea salt for blanching the mint
  2. 1 bunch fresh mint (2 oz) (55 g) – leaves removed from stems
  3. 1 bunch Italian parsley (3 oz) (85 g) – bottom/tough stems trimmed
  4. 2 large garlic cloves – skinned
  5. 1/2 cup walnut pieces (2 oz) (55 g)
  6. 1/3 cup finely grated Reggiano or Grana Padano Parmesan
  7. finely grated zest of 1 lemon (2 teaspoons) – use microplane grater
  8. 1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
  9. 1/2 cup roasted walnut oil
  10. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  1. Step 1: Fill a large bowl with cold water and several ice cubes.
  2. Step 2: Bring 8 cups of water to a fast boil. Add the salt and mint leaves and blanch for 10 seconds only. Immediately remove from boiling water and place in ice water bath. Once cooled, drain and squeeze leaves as dry as possible and lay on a paper towel.
  3. Step 3: Coarsely chop the mint with scissors. Place the mint pieces and the balance of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process for about 2 minutes until it forms a creamy paste, scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Cook’s note: This pesto is best used the day it’s made but can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

sauces, pesto, mint

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  • Reply maybelles mom June 29, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    I am glad you mentioned how the parsley mitigates the mint, b/c then I feel like I really want to try this.

    • Reply Viviane Bauquet Farre June 30, 2009 at 8:26 am

      Glad you will give this recipe a try – the parsley not only mellows out the mint, but also keeps the pesto green. Just like basil, mint has a tendency to brown when exposed to oxygen and heat. Thanks for your comment and let me know how you like it…

  • Reply Skye Leith July 16, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    I’m tasting it all over again. You’re such a fine writer, V.

  • Reply kristin larkin logerfo July 18, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    I am still dreaming about it . When I made basil pesto tonight , I thought about mint and went looking for your magic … your magic V.

  • Reply Sanjeeta kk March 12, 2011 at 4:48 am

    Came here from Twitter and am glad that I did :) Love the pesto and the your blog!

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