Pesto doesn’t have to be made with parmesan and pine nuts to taste amazing! What is more, Pesto is extremely versatile: fill your toasties with it, make delicious pasta dishes or thin it with a little oil and drizzle over your fish and poultry dishes. Our quick, simple, and extremely flavoursome Basil and Walnut Pesto can be made with your everyday Cheddar!
Homemade vs Shop-Bought Pesto
One of the simplest and quickest meals we make is Pesto Pasta with lots of vegetables. The one thing that takes it to another level is homemade pesto. I’ll admit, I used to buy pesto for years. Until one day I had a pot of basil that was starting to look a bit sorry for itself on my window sill. I made my own pesto and never looked back.
Since then, I’ve made numerous types of pesto, experimenting with different herbs, nuts, and cheese. Here, I present to you, my absolute favourite – Basil and Walnut Pesto with Cheddar! Quick and easy to make, it packs lots more flavour than a shop-bought pesto!
Simple delicious ingredients is what makes this pesto: fragrant fresh basil, sharp mature cheddar, pungent garlic, walnuts, and zingy lemon, all finished with extra virgin olive oil.
This pesto has been tested with toasted and untoasted walnuts. I found that it’s slightly too bitter if I use toasted nuts. But the addition of lemon zest, alongside lemon juice, adds just the right amount of bitterness.
To make this pesto you need either a food processor (or even a powerful smoothie maker/ blender) or a large pestle and mortar.
Using a Food Processor
If you’re using a food processor, all you need is to put all the ingredients, except for olive oil, into the processor and blitz until you reach a consistency that you like. Then mix in extra virgin olive oil at the end. Similarly, you can make pesto in a powerful blender/ smoothie maker. This method is great if you want a smooth pesto, without much texture.
Using a Pestle and Mortar
If you’re using a pestle and mortar, I recommend you chop your ingredients finely first to make your life easier. Put everything, but grated cheddar and olive oil in pestle and mortar, and crush until desired consistency is reached. Mix in cheese and olive oil at the end. Your pesto may have a more rustic look but will taste just as delicious. We actually prefer our pesto with a little bit of extra texture.
What To Use Walnut & Cheddar Pesto For?
The amounts in this recipe are for 3 portions of pasta. But I don’t want you to think that that’s all it can be used for. We love homemade pesto with cheddar used in a variety of different ways:
- Spread the pesto on the slices of bread, top with cheese and make delicious toasties.
- Mix your pesto with ground almonds, walnuts or breadcrumbs and spread on white fish before cooking in the oven.
- Pesto makes a delicious pizza topping too.
Other Sauce and Dip Recipes
Basil and Walnut Pesto with Cheddar
- Pestle and Mortar or Food Processor
- 30 g fresh basil leaves only
- 30 g walnuts untoasted
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- zest of half a lemon
- 1 small garlic clove finely chopped
- 60 g mature cheddar finely grated
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
If Using Pestle & Mortar:
- Chop your basil, lemon zest, walnuts and garlic as finely as you can. Tip them into a pestle and mortar, add salt and pepper and lemon juice. Crush everything together until desired consistency is reached. Then mix in your finely grated Cheddar. Mix in the olive oil.
If Using Food Processor:
- Tip all the ingredients, except for olive oil, into a food processor and blitz to desired consistency. Stir in the olive oil