Mint Pesto with Walnuts
This Mint Pesto is made with fresh mint, roasted walnuts, garlic and parmesan cheese blended together with olive oil. It takes ten minutes to make and all you need to do is stir it into a bowl of cooked pasta for an quick and easy supper.
I love traditional pesto made with basil. Once or twice each summer, I will buy a bunch of fresh basil and make it from scratch at home. I also often buy the ready-made pesto that you can find in chiller cabinets at the supermarket. My inspiration to make Mint Pesto was simply that I have a huge amount of mint growing in my garden. Each year, my patch of mint seems to get larger and I struggle to find culinary uses for it.
What you need to know about Mint Pesto
- It is not too strongly minty. Before I tried making pesto with mint, I was concerned that it might taste too strongly minty. However, the mint is balanced by other strong flavours – garlic and parmesan – so it actually has quite a delicate flavour.
- I use walnuts, rather than the pine-nuts which are used in traditional pesto, in this recipe. I think the flavour of walnuts goes particularly well with mint. However, if you prefer, you can use pine-nuts or hazelnuts instead of walnuts.
- Whatever kind of nuts you use, it is really important to dry fry them (step 1) as this really brings out their nutty flavour. Simply put the nuts in a frying pan, with no oil, and heat gently for about five minutes. Stir occasionally to turn the nuts and keep an eye on them to make sure that they do not burn.
- When you are making this recipe, it really helps with the blending (step 3) if you crush or chop the ingredients roughly before you put them into the food processor.
- It is very easy to increase (or decrease) this recipe depending on the number of people you have to feed. My recipe serves four people but you can halve it to serve two or quarter it to serve one.
- If you have any left over Mint Pesto, you can keep it in a covered bowl in the fridge for up to five days. The bright green colour will become dull if the pesto is kept in the fridge. You can add a squeeze of lemon juice or pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top of the pesto to prevent this. This pesto also freezes well so you can make a big batch if you come across a lot of fresh mint.
How to use Mint Pesto
You can use Mint Pesto in all the ways that you can use pesto made with basil. I think it is great just stirred into cooked pasta. However, there are various additions that you can try.
- You can add some green vegetables to the dish. I think peas and broad beans go particularly well with the delicate mint flavour of the pesto. However, runner or french beans are also a good option. Five minutes before your pasta is cooked, add 200 g of the vegetables to the pan. Drain and then stir in the pesto.
- Adding some extra walnuts gives extra texture and flavour. When you dry fry the walnuts (step 1) add an extra 100 g (4 oz). Set these aside and roughly chop them. Add to the drained and pesto-coated pasta.
- If you are not a vegetarian, you could stir in some pieces of chopped cooked ham or crispy bacon to the drained and pesto-coated pasta.
- Another good addition is to stir in some pieces of soft white cheese to the warm pesto-coated pasta. They will melt slightly and boost both the flavour and “mouth feel” of the finished dish. You could use feta, which gives a hit of salty flavour, or mozarella which will add some extra creamy deliciousness.
Other simple pasta suppers
This recipe for Mint Pesto is a great week-night supper option. It is easy, tasty and uncomplicated and can be made in ten minutes. Here are some of my other simple pasta supper recipes.
- Basic Tomato Sauce – this is an easy recipe for a rich sauce using store-cupboard ingredients. Delicious stirred into pasta as it is and open to lots of variations and additions!
- Creamy Mushroom Pasta – this is simple vegetarian sauce combines mushrooms and chestnuts and lots of garlic. It can be used with any kind of pasta but I prefer it with short pasta such as gigli or penne.
- Spaghetti with Smoked Salmon – this simple recipe can be made in 15 minutes. Smoked salmon trimmings are combined with fennel and chives and a squeeze of lemon.
- Prawn Pasta with Herb Butter – this is another super-simple and super-quick recipe which can be adapted according to the herbs that you happen to have available.
- Macaroni Cheese – this is a brilliant make-ahead vegetarian recipe which has a secret layer of caramelised onions and a bit of cayenne to balance its rich cheesiness. Topped with a layer of crisp breadcrumbs it is perfect served with a simple green salad.
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This quick and easy pesto uses fresh mint combined with toasted walnuts, garlic, parmesan and olive oil. Stirred into cooked pasta, it is the perfect no-fuss vegetarian supper.
- 100 g (4 oz) walnut halves
- 2 fat cloves of garlic (crushed)
- 100 g (4 oz) parmesan cheese (grated)
- 50 g (2 oz) fresh mint leaves (roughly chopped)
- 10 tablespoons oil (I use 5 extra virgin olive oil and 5 rapeseed oil)
- Salt to taste
- Put the walnuts in a frying pan and dry fry for around five minutes until toasted.
- Put the walnuts in a food processor or blender and add the crushed garlic, grated parmesan cheese and chopped mint leaves.
- Add the oil and blend until you get a rough paste.
- Add salt to taste
Keywords: mint, pesto, sauce
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