Almond Herb Pesto

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.

By Published On: June 15th, 201559 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

59 Comments

  1. Julie is Hostess At Heart June 15, 2015 at 8:25 AM - Reply

    We love pesto too but just make the traditional basil pesto and then hoard it in my freezer. Your pesto dish is just beautiful! I’m going to have to expand my pesto horizons with your version!

    • chef mimi June 15, 2015 at 8:28 AM - Reply

      You really should, but I won’t bully you about it!!! I’ve used pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, bla bla bla. It’s just fun. Not necessary, but just fun!!!

  2. Angie June 15, 2015 at 8:32 AM - Reply

    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.

    • chef mimi June 15, 2015 at 8:56 AM - Reply

      I really feel parsley is an unappreciated and underutilized herb. No other herb has that freshness factor to the degree parsley does. My opinion, anyway!!!

  3. Jodi June 15, 2015 at 8:40 AM - Reply

    YUM!

  4. tinywhitecottage June 15, 2015 at 9:11 AM - Reply

    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!

    • chef mimi June 15, 2015 at 9:35 AM - Reply

      I wasn’t sure if I was the only person who thought that, but I use it in everything!!!

      • tinywhitecottage June 15, 2015 at 9:37 AM

        Your pasta looks so wonderful! Lovely photo’s…I can almost smell it!

  5. lapetitepaniere June 15, 2015 at 9:39 AM - Reply

    Mimi, such a lovely flavors with a very beautiful combination! :)

  6. Tasty Eats Ronit Penso June 15, 2015 at 10:32 AM - Reply

    Lovely dish! I love almonds in pesto. I usually also add a bit of citrus zest to it, inspired by the fabulous Gremolata herb mix. Works great. :)

  7. My French Heaven June 15, 2015 at 2:12 PM - Reply

    Oh wow! This looks delicious. I love all kinds of “pesto” yummmmmmmy!

  8. Elaine @ foodbod June 15, 2015 at 2:21 PM - Reply

    Love that pesto!!!

  9. Conor Bofin June 15, 2015 at 3:01 PM - Reply

    Elegance redefined Mimi. Lovely stuff.

    • chef mimi June 15, 2015 at 5:07 PM - Reply

      That’s such a compliment from you! Thanks!

  10. Norma Chang June 15, 2015 at 5:34 PM - Reply

    I love almonds so i know I will like this pesto, I am munching on macadamias while writing this and thinking macadamias would make a delicious pesto also.

    • chef mimi June 15, 2015 at 7:49 PM - Reply

      They do! I think I’ve tried all nuts and seeds for fun!

  11. theclevercarrot June 15, 2015 at 6:56 PM - Reply

    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.

    • chef mimi June 15, 2015 at 7:51 PM - Reply

      You are welcome! My fun in the kitchen comes from playing with recipes and being inspired by different cuisines!

  12. ladyredspecs June 15, 2015 at 11:12 PM - Reply

    Your photos are beautiful Mimi, do I detect the influence of a Frenchman? I love variations on pesto too!

  13. jothetartqueen June 16, 2015 at 2:28 AM - Reply

    Hi Mimi, lovely pesto! Homemade is always better. A simple pesto pasta is always delicious!

    • chef mimi June 17, 2015 at 8:31 AM - Reply

      It’s pretty indescribable, isn’t it?!!! Love pasta with just about any pesto!

  14. chefceaser June 16, 2015 at 4:34 AM - Reply

    Reblogged this on Chef Ceaser.

  15. cheergerm June 16, 2015 at 6:25 AM - Reply

    You just made me hungry at 9.30 at night CM!

  16. Abbe Odenwalder June 16, 2015 at 12:07 PM - Reply

    Pesto adds so much to everything and I love this version! And I love that plate. I think you and I must have a thing for green!

    • chef mimi June 16, 2015 at 2:34 PM - Reply

      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!!!

  17. bitsandbreadcrumbs June 16, 2015 at 1:26 PM - Reply

    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.

    • chef mimi June 16, 2015 at 2:33 PM - Reply

      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!

  18. The Gourmet Gourmand June 16, 2015 at 10:33 PM - Reply

    I absolutely love pesto! You’ve definitely done it justice here. What is that flower you used for garnishing?

  19. anotherfoodieblogger June 17, 2015 at 12:02 AM - Reply

    Such pretty photos for your pesto! You can never go wrong with fresh herbs in pesto!

  20. Marcela (tortadellafiglia) June 17, 2015 at 1:08 AM - Reply

    I love this pesto! Must be delicious! You took gorgeous photos! I’m so hungry right now!

    • chef mimi June 17, 2015 at 1:16 PM - Reply

      Thank you so much! Sorry I made you hungry! :(

  21. Laura @ Feast Wisely June 17, 2015 at 1:40 AM - Reply

    Perfect timing for me – just as basil is coming out of season, I’ll have to experiment with spinach instead!

    • chef mimi June 17, 2015 at 8:32 AM - Reply

      Do try the parsley though. It adds something really special!

      • Laura @ Feast Wisely June 17, 2015 at 4:52 PM

        Thanks I will I also like parsley mixed with basil and mint in a salsa verde….

  22. love in the kitchen June 17, 2015 at 11:03 PM - Reply

    So with you Mimi – I love a good pesto. What a great post.

  23. aranislandgirl June 18, 2015 at 4:43 AM - Reply

    Sounds amazing and delicious and healthy! I will have to try this as I make homemade pesto and eat it daily on wraps with hummus, cheese, veg, and greens. I adore almonds too. :)

    • chef mimi June 18, 2015 at 7:40 AM - Reply

      I love pesto mixed in with hummus, too! Great stuff!

  24. Antonia @ Zoale.com June 18, 2015 at 3:58 PM - Reply

    Looks delicious! I love experimenting with pesto….you can do so much with it. Beautiful photos :)

    • chef mimi June 18, 2015 at 10:10 PM - Reply

      Exactly! That’s why it’s so much fun! And good!

  25. Karen June 20, 2015 at 9:32 AM - Reply

    I’ve got a big bag of almonds in the freezer…I’ll be trying your version of pesto soon.

  26. myhomefoodthatsamore June 22, 2015 at 4:18 AM - Reply

    Sounds delicious ! My mother used to make a pesto with a mixture of walnuts and pistachio !

    • chef mimi June 28, 2015 at 12:30 PM - Reply

      Oh yes! I love mixing up the nuts, too! Such great flavor varieties!

  27. Kiki June 24, 2015 at 8:20 AM - Reply

    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 :-)

    • chef mimi June 28, 2015 at 12:31 PM - Reply

      You can even try all fresh herbs plus a jalapeno! I wouldn’t use rosemary, though, or just a little bit…

  28. Simply Splendid Food July 8, 2015 at 7:11 PM - Reply

    I’m so glad I found your blog! Great pictures Chef Mimi! My basil is ready for picking. I also have jalapeno. Another winning recipe I will surely make this week!

  29. Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward October 17, 2015 at 1:40 PM - Reply

    So versatile, as you said, and I think I’ll try it tonight.

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