Parsley and Walnut Pesto ~ A Recipe from the Winter Herb Garden
Do you have tons of parsley growing in the garden right now? Being in Southern California, this is the season when parsley is lush and prolific….leading me to reach for parsley recipes that use a lot of parsley! Yes, definitely throw on as much parsely as you can when garnishing your favorite soups and entrees, but inevitably there’s going to be lots of parsley left to use.
Appreciate the Flavor of In-Season Parsley
I used to think of parsley as that typically ignored garnish on dinner plates that never tasted particularly delicious. This belief persisted until I started growing my own parsley. Initially, I decided to grow parsley in my herb garden because I love it in soups—but now it has become one of my favorite herbs to grow!
Here in Southern California, parsley is cool season, hardy annual herb that tastes the best when grown through Winter and Spring. I personally like to start my seeds at the end of September/October and again in February or March. Don’t forget to check out my Zone 10 Seed Starting Schedule (available to subscribers) for reminders and details.
When grown in ideal conditions, parsley will be green, bushy, and extremely fragrant. The scent is sweet and earthy! Now, I’m not saying that parsley pesto is similar in flavor to basil pesto, but it is a great seasonal option for those of us who enjoy eating herbs at their peak. If you’re looking for other parsley recipes that use a ton of parsley, check out chimichurri. Now, I’ve had delicious chimichurri in restaurants, but I have yet to find a home recipe that is as good. If you’ve got one, please share!
Flat Leaf Parsley vs. Curly?
Parsley foliage has two main forms: flat (and wide) leaves or curly leaves. My personal favorite parsley for culinary purposes is flat-leaf Italian parsley. If you are doubtful about parsley pesto, let me tell you that the result is completely based on the quality of the parsley you are using. If your parsley doesn’t smell sweet and fragrant as you waggle the bunch in front of your nose, it’s probably not the kind of parsley you want to be making pesto with. In fact, this is my rule for all parsley recipes!
While the flavor of parsley is a little difficult to describe, there’s definitely a “green” flavor to it along with an earthy quality and sweet smell. Therefore, this pesto makes a great condiment for roasted potatoes, vegetables, meats, and even pasta. This recipe is not meant to replace or replicate the flavor of basil pesto—truthfully “pesto” simply refers to the action of crushing or mashing—but it uses a whole lotta parsely to create a condiment that has many uses.
Want to know more hardy annual herbs to grow? Check out: Cool Season Annual Herbs for Southern California
Ingredients for Parsley & Walnut Pesto:
This recipe is basically the same as my Classic Basil Pesto, but with some additional changes— such as more lemon! Parsley and lemon go so well together.
2 cups fresh parsley leaves (see preparation notes below)
4oz parmesan cheese, freshly grated
4 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (want more ways to use & preserve citrus? Click HERE).
1/2 cup + 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
Preparation & Method
Wash your parsley and remove thick, woody stems. Dry your parsley, so your pesto isn’t full of water. Have you ever used a salad spinner? It’s one of my MUST have kitchen tools for any gardener. We have this one, but any salad spinner will make quick work of washing and drying your harvests.
Some stems are fine, but the thicker stalks really create a fibrous product, so I just compost those. In our home, nothing truly “goes to waste” because we put inedible or past-due vegetables in our compost bin. You can about our composting efforts in Compost Tumbling Basics.
Add your parsley to a blender or food processor. Don’t blend yet!
Add the rest of the ingredients.
Blend/process until it has reached your desired consistency. You can add more olive oil if the pesto is too thick.
Freezing Parlsey Pesto for Storage
If we have a lot of parsley, I will often make multiple batches of pesto and freeze for later. There are different ways to freeze pesto. You can transfer portions to freezer safe bags and press flat for freezing. There also some mason jars that are safe for freezing when packed appropriately (for example, some mason jars have a “freeze line” printed on the jar like these).
My favorite way to freeze my pesto is in muffin tins (just until frozen) and then transferred to a large, freezer safe bag for future use. Sometimes it can be difficult to wrestle the pesto out of the muffin tins, but usually I let them sit a bit and then use a butter knife to coax them out. I find that one “pesto puck” can make a two-person serving of pasta. They defrost easily if left to thaw at room temperature just a short time before adding to pasta.
Delicious Ways to Use Your Pesto!
Stir into pasta. Learn to make your own homemade pasta HERE.
Roast up some vegetables and serve the pesto as a dipping sauce or condiment!
It’s great with fire grilled artichokes too!
It’s delicious served with steak (almost like a chimichurri because both typically are parsley-forward).
Smother on toasted bread or grilled cheese.
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