Walnut Sage Pesto is the delicious result of a sage explosion in the garden. It grows well in our climate, and we've had an extremely hot, dry summer, which is perfect for sage.
I hate to see anything from the garden go unused, so I've been trying out new ways to use up this wonderful herb. And if you have a lot of herbs and a food processor, homemade pesto is incredibly easy. It's hard to believe something so delicious is this crazy simple to make. But it is. Simply combining fresh green herbs with garlic, olive oil, nuts and Parmesan cheese is an almost magical transformation.
Pine nuts are the traditional ingredient, but I like to use walnuts in homemade pesto. We can get them locally, and the slightly bitter, nutty taste is perfect in this sauce. There's something magical about the flavour marriage of toasted walnuts and sage. It's like they were made for each other. They compliment each other beautifully and the fresh, yet earthy flavours together just scream “fall”. Be sure to toast the walnuts first for a toasty (of course), extra depth of flavour. I also used toasted walnuts in this Parsley Walnut Pesto.
Sage is a very potent herb, so a little goes a long way. I have a lot of sage, so I can be choosy and use just the small, new leaves, which are milder in flavour. But if don't have your own crop, it's very easy to find bunches of fresh sage at this time of year. Sage tastes both bitter and sweet, and the pungent flavour that it adds to this walnut sage pesto is really amazing.
Because of it's strong flavour, this walnut sage pesto stands up well to cooking. As in, heating it before adding pasta, or using it as a pizza base. But, don't be afraid to try it just as is. Try it as a dip for fresh apples or pears, for a sublime fall appetizer. And this stuff, it smells amazing. Use it as a topping for grilled chicken or fish, or grilled or roasted veggies. (Especially butternut squash).
If you want to try sage in more dishes, check out Herb Grilled Chicken Thighs, or Blueberry Sourdough Sausage Stuffing. And winter is coming. So if you want to preserve some of your fresh herbs to use during the colder months, here are some ways to do it: Preserving Fresh Herbs, 6 Ways
And, If you have a lot of summer herbs, pesto is an ideal and easy way to use them and it freezes beautifully. You can put pesto in ice cube trays to use in pastas, or any other sauces. Or, you can try this freezing method that I'm doing this year. From the Kitchn.
- 1 cup fresh sage leaves
- 1 cup fresh parsley
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- zest of one lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- In a food processor, pulse sage and parsley leaves, garlic, walnuts, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper until smooth.
- With motor running, slowly pour in olive oil.
- Turn off motor and stir in Parmesan cheese
- Store in the fridge for up to a week
Toast walnuts in a skillet over medium low heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes, shaking the pan every couple of minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool before using in the recipe.