Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sun-Dried Tomato and Toasted Walnut Pesto

Several winters ago, my family held an Iron Chef competition at home.  We all made dishes using the secret ingredient--walnuts, if I remember correctly--and judged each dish in a couple categories.  It was a great time.  I made pesto with walnuts and sun-dried tomatoes and did quite well.  So, if you're looking for a winning recipe (pun intended...), read on.

Pesto on Pasta
Sun-Dried Tomato and Toasted Walnut Pesto

  • 1 - 8.5 ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes in oil (or a 1.5 ounce package dry sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted)
  • 1.5 loosely packed cups basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil (extra-virgin is best)
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
  • a few sprinkles of black pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
First, remove the sun-dried tomatoes from the jar (save the oil if you like--it'll have picked up great flavor) and chop coarsely.  Then, combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and well-incorporated.  That's it! 

Serve over pasta or as a spread/dip on bread.  Yields about 2 cups.  



I love that this pesto is distinctly different than standard basil pesto.  The sun-dried tomatoes and basil come together to create a fresh, almost sweet taste that's balanced out by the nutty, toasty walnuts. 
This recipe replaces pine nuts--an ingredient often found in basil pesto--with walnuts, and is, as a result, less expensive to make.  Unfortunately, sun-dried tomatoes can be pricey and difficult to find in some grocery stores. 
Ease of Preparation:   
The food processor does all of the work in this recipe.         
Non-vegan friendliness:   
Vegans and non-vegans alike will love this recipe.  Just ask the judges of Iron Chef: My Family Edition.   


  1. Do you think you could use pine nuts for this instead?

  2. I think that would also work. You might want to try it with just under a 1/2 cup pine nuts rather than a full 1/2 cup (since pine nuts fit together better that walnut halves with less dead space in the measuring cup). Let me know how it goes if you make it!