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pesto pine nuts or walnuts?

lots of basil in the garden....about to make pesto....
usually make it with pine nuts but walnuts sound intriguing in a recipe i recently saw....

what do you use? i wonder how macadamia would be?

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  1. I have a recipe which uses cashews, which I'm planning on trying soon. Wish I could remember what the herb was, though! Maybe Vietnamese coriander, or some type of mint? Something I have growing anyway.

    Anyway I think a lot of people never use pignolia, I don't think most commercially prepared ones do either.

    1. I always use roasted macadamia nuts in my pesto and about half the amount of what you would normally put in with the garlic, its good and if you have alot of basil, pesto freezes up really nice in some small portion cups. Both at work and at home I always keep a large amount of pesto on hand as a staple ingredients finishing an alot of different dishes.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ZagChef

        Coll that sounds real good. do you have a recipe?

        I love the idea of the nut mix! thanks all!

        1. re: namreb

          Haven't made it yet, but got the idea from a thread about cinnamon basil. I only grew regular basil this year, but have Vietnamese cilantro (which I love as opposed to regular cilantro), chocolate and pineapple mint, and lemon verbena. Thinking of using a regular recipe but different nuts and herbs to make a few different batches, as they are all running wild as opposed to the basil (I think it got weevils or something, it's not happy). How bad could it be? Then freeze for flavoring sauces and soups, if nothing else, over the winter.
          Also am going to put all of those in vinegar for winter salads. Just haven't found the time yet........

      2. Over the years I've always had to use up the nuts stored in the pantry.....I have used all in pesto sauce with compliments and nary a complaint:

        Pine nuts
        Walnuts
        Pecans
        Almonds
        Cashews
        Macadamia
        Hazelnuts.

        1. I'm not a huge fan of pine nuts, so I usually use almonds. I'm sure walnuts would probably work, too.

          That's one of the things I love about pesto, how flexible the recipe can be, not just with the nuts but also with the herbs.

          1 Reply
          1. re: writergeek313

            Im also not a big fan of Pine Nuts-so I always use walnuts- works great!

          2. Walnuts are fine. I've used pecans also. But I still like pine nuts.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Bat Guano

              In Argentina, I found walnut pesto often alongside marinara on home made noodles.

            2. i've used pine, pecan and walnut, and walnut is my favorite with the pesto mix.

              1. Last time my wife made it she used pistachios. I thought they were pretty good.

                1. My garden has been over-run with basil. I have tried both and I think pine nuts are better. I purchased mine at COSTCO, still pricey but less than everywhere else.

                  I froze mine in a series of ice-cube trays. A cube is about a single serving over pasta. I also froze more family size chunks in tupperwares.

                  Bell has jars and lids that can be used for freezing.

                  Good luck!

                  1. I've made several batches in the past month or so, some w/pine nuts, some w/walnuts. I like them both (although, I must say, by this point, I am sick of pesto!). But I'd probably lean toward walnuts if making more: they're cheaper, and I never trust the freshness of the pine nuts I can get here,

                    1. I do most of my pesto with cashews. And a smaller batch with pinenuts. Last year I made pineapple sage and almond pesto, but I really prefer the basil/cashew. Personally, I think walnuts are the worst of all nuts, so I would never make pesto from them.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Sooeygun

                        I do a winter one of italian parsley, cilantro and cashews, it seems to be favored by guests over basil.. odd

                      2. regular roasted peanuts is tolerable, almonds are decent, same with brazil nuts. pine nuts in pesto are just hard to beat.

                        1. this pesto recipe worked best....my mom use to freeze them in ice cube trays and they would pop right out...i had a problem with freezing them. My mother is no longer around to ask ;( perhaps someone could shed some light?

                          Pesto:
                          2 cups fresh basil leaves
                          1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
                          1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano
                          1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
                          4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
                          1/4 teaspoon salt
                          1/2 cup olive oil

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: namreb

                            i spray the trays with olive oil cooking spray first

                            1. re: namreb

                              I froze them in a plastic ice cube tray, and like cocoa girl below, I also sprayed it with Pam.

                              After they froze, I put them in freezer bags and removed the air. One cube is a great amount for one person, it is also helpful to add a drop of the pasta water to the pesto. It will defrost very quickly whne removed from the freezer.

                              1. re: namreb

                                for the ice tray: apply olive oil with a pastry brush - more efficient than aeorosol.

                              2. i prefer walnuts with parsley, almonds or pine nuts with basil. always toast the nuts.

                                the cashew -coriander combo sounds great.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                  ITA agree with this and do the same. I always toast the pinenuts; for me it makes the dish.

                                2. Mmm, I love toasted pinenuts! I blend them into pesto, as usual, then stir extra WHOLE toasted pinenuts into the sauced pasta.

                                  1. I often use almonds, and I don't think it affects the taste greatly, though the texture is less soft. They're tons cheaper, and less prone to trigger allergy problems. I have occasional reactions to some ingredients, and pine nuts is one of them.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: dmd_kc

                                      i always seem to be picking nut pieces out of my teeth for a long time after the fact when i have almonds.

                                      1. re: TroyTempest

                                        They're certainly among the hardest, along with hazelnuts. Though they're actually drupes, not nuts, as Bittman reminded me in his recent Pan-Baked Lemon-Almond Tart "MInimalist" video.

                                        1. re: dmd_kc

                                          interesting, what else is a drupe?

                                      1. I have tried all kinds of nuts did not like macadamia nuts at all. Walnuts are stronger than pine nuts. I personally like almonds in my pesto when I want a change. Pecans are soft like pine nuts but are a bit more sweet than the other nuts. But always lots of garlic.
                                        FYI did you know that you could blanch the basil and hold the color. It also makes a milder pesto. Some times I find people get heartburn from pesto but are less likely with the blanched and milder pesto.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: katz66

                                          I make mine garlicky with pine nuts...my innovation is to make it slightly lighter without compromising the flavor with about a 1" slice of tofu. You'd be surprised...

                                          1. re: garlic17

                                            What a great idea, I will try it with the pesto I froze. 1" slice from what size block - tetrapak or tub? Thanks.

                                            1. re: buttertart

                                              From a regular size block...3"x5"??...I guess that's tub. Adding tofu is sort of by taste and the seat of your pants...you don't want to loose the pesto intensity, color and texture...start with a smaller amount and go from there.

                                              1. re: garlic17

                                                I will def do this. Thanks v much!

                                            2. re: garlic17

                                              heartburn from the basil? odd, i'd have thought the raw garlic would be the culprit. that too can be blanched, or poached a few minutes, to reduce its sharpness.

                                            3. re: katz66

                                              Regarding blanching...I've heard of that, but my last batch was 47 packed cups of Genovese basil--very hard to blanch and dry that much basil!!

                                            4. Pine nuts for basil. Walnuts for a different version that would include queso cotija and cilantro (instead of parm and basil). I might even be tempted to toss in part of a jalapeno for a little kick. But I am from Texas.