Almond Herb Pesto

59 Comments

We love a good pesto in our family. Of course there’s the popular Genovese pesto made with baby basil leaves, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan, which is divine. You can find this traditional recipe in any Italian cookbook. But it’s also fun to create different pesto varieties. If you want to stick with the authentic version, I understand, but you’re missing out on many wonderful flavor sensations!

My pestos always contain olive oil, Parmesan and garlic, but I love to play with the nuts and the greens. You can substitute any nut or seed in pestos, and for the basil, you can substitute anything green, from cilantro to spinach.
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Today’s Almond Herb Pesto was inspired by our love of almonds. We order all of our almonds from Nuts.com*, and they’re always fresh. Many varieties are available but I typically purchase plain whole almonds with the skins intact.
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For the green part of today’s pesto, I’m using a combination of half basil and half parsley. Basil provides a unique flavor, and parsley provides a distinct freshness. Fortunately, my basil and parsley are still surviving in the garden in spite of our rainy spring.

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The wonderful thing about home-made pesto is how versatile it is. Pesto on pasta? Of course! That’s what I’m doing today. But what about pesto slathered on chicken breasts or salmon steaks? Or topping grilled asparagus or roasted tomatoes? Yes!



Almond Herb Pesto
Makes 12 ounces of pesto

4 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, or less
2 ounces Parmesan, coarsely chopped
Herbs, in this case parsley and basil
4 ounces plain, whole almonds

I’m taking different steps to make this pesto because I want the almond to be in chunky bits, not completely puréed. Therefore, I’m starting with olive oil in the blender and adding the garlic and Parmesan.



Next I added a handful of basil leaves and a handful of parsley leaves. I used both curly leaf and Italian flat leaf parsley. Blend until smooth.
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Lastly, add the almonds to the mixture and blend only until you have chunky almond bits.

For my pasta today, I chose bucatini, but any spaghetti-type pasta will work well. Toss the cooked and well-drained pasta with the pesto until it’s evenly distributed. Don’t cook your pasta al dente because there’s not enough moisture in the pesto for the pasta to absorb and cook more.

Serve the pasta hot.
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You can always add more grated Parmesan if you wish.
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If the pasta dries up a little, add a little olive oil or cream and toss gently.
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* If you need a good resource for nuts, seeds, dried fruits and more, check out Nuts.com! We’ve used them forever and they have great customer service, which is important to me. I store all of these pantry staples in the refrigerator.
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note: If you plan on slathering the pesto onto something that will be baked, like salmon, for example, I would omit the Parmesan completely in the pesto. Or just use the pesto as is after the baking is complete.

59 thoughts on “Almond Herb Pesto

  1. We absolutely LOVE pesto in our house!! Would you believe I’ve never added parsley in mine?! What a wonderful idea!! Will try for sure since I grow a lot of parsley in my garden.

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  2. I’m like you…I use different greens and nuts but always use parmesan, olive oil and garlic! One of my favorite is radish leaf pesto. It’s fantastic! I prefer parsley over basil these days. I agree with your comment to Angie, no other herb has that freshness factor as parsley does!

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  3. Hey Mimi,
    I absolutely adore pesto especially on pasta. I love your encouragement to try different greens and nut combos. I have to say that I rely on my Dad’s pesto since I’ve not had any better! He makes it very similar to your recipe with the parsely/basil. He throws in either pignoli nuts or walnuts. I should really experiment with different greens. And we could have a looooong discussion on the different pastas to use. I LOVE bucatini! Thanks for this wonderful recipe.

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    • Thank you! Love green, but I got these plates from my mother. My favorite color is purple, but I’m not such a freak that I own everything purple. Although my kids might say different!!!

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  4. Thanks for reminding me again just how much I love pesto and how versatile it is. I always feel like if I don’t have enough fresh basil, I can’t make pesto. So wrong! Yours looks divine. I agree with above, love the plate and also the one on your Home page. So pretty.

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    • Thank you! My basil is just hanging in there this year because of all of the rain – it’s usually about 4′ high by now where I live. So you’re right, it’s good to have other herbs for different reasons!

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  5. Great pesto version – I’ve only ever stuck with one variety of herbs per pesto, although (as you know) I love experimenting with the ingredients. Sometimes parmesan is too sharp for my taste, so I’ve tried out different cheeses, diffferent nuts, different herbs over time.
    I guess I’ll be experimenting with using more than one type of herb next :-)

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