Pesto di Noce

The orchard and its flock

It’s officially fall, which means no more 100 degree days.  Out in Winters fall isn’t colored in the mosaic of reds, yellows, and browns of Michigan or Eastern states.  Trees don’t drop their leaves, they drop their nuts. Acorns, buckeyes, pine nuts, and walnuts.  So in honor of dropping nuts, it was pesto time.

I thought about a crafting a traditional pesto using pine nuts from the grey pine, or ghost pine (digger pine if you’re racist), but  it seemed like a lot of work.  Picking cones, placing them in a burlap bag and then bashing the bag to break up the cones, finally working through the mess to pick out the nuts, which are reportedly tasty, though not as rich in fat and oil as Pinon or the pine nuts of the Fertile Crescent.  According to this guy, working with wild pine nuts is a labor of love.  Walnuts on the other hand, simply require shelling, like a good domesticated orchard crop should.

Out in Winters we are surrounded by walnut orchards.  Basil, parsley and garlic grow in the garden.  Olive oil is produced down the road, so all that is missing from a rock solid country Pesto di Noce is a local Parmesan.  No luck.  Sorry localvores, this dish features a no good border crossing immigrant cheese.

Pesto di Noce

Prep time: 20 minutes if not cracking walnuts (otherwise add an hour)

Ingredients – A rough guide

  • 2 cups of packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup of parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup+ of walnuts
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 2 cloves or garlic
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Pesto di noce

Pesto is easy.  If you like traditional preparation then get out the big mortar and pestel and start crushing up the basil leaves and salt, add the walnuts, garlic and cheese and drizzles of olive oil and pound away. If you want it quick, add all ingredients (save olive oil) to the food processor and drizzle in the oil and lemon juice until you reach the velvety, green, and chunky consistency (not as much oil as chimichurri but not as pastey as hummus).  That’s all folks. I heated up some roasted chicken and cherry tomatoes in a skillet, then tossed them with penne and the pesto for a really rich dish.  The roasted chicken flavor added a whole new dimension to the pesto, definitely worth trying. Just make sure to save some pesto for dipping or for toasted baguettes.


2 thoughts on “Pesto di Noce

  1. We love pesto, even the kids will eat it despite the green (healthy) color! One trick I learned was to substitute spinach for the basil and almonds for pine nuts if you don’t happen to have those ingredients handy. The taste is obviously a bit different but really good. I bet yours tastes great with most of the ingredients coming from right outside your door!

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