Simple Supper | Bucatini with Mixed Herb and Walnut Pesto


When most people think of pesto, the traditional version made with basil and pine nuts comes to mind. Did you know you can make pesto with many herb and nut combinations? You can even use blanched spinach, kale or arugula instead of, or in combination with, fresh herbs. Mixed herb pesto is one of my favorites, and it’s a great way to use up any leftover tender herbs in your fridge. I used a combination of basil, parsley and chives, but a handful of fresh mint or a smidge of tarragon would be wonderful additions as well.

Here the pesto is served over bucatini, but it’s also a delicious accompaniment to grilled vegetables, meats, fish, and shellfish. Everyone in my family loves a dollop stirred into mayonnaise for sandwiches (especially roast beef), and I love it in place of tomato sauce on homemade pizza. So versatile!

Bucatini with Mixed Herb and Walnut Pesto

serves 4

  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/3 cup fresh chives, roughly chopped
  • zest of a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • 2/3 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
  • 12 ounces bucatini

Spread walnuts in a small, dry, heavy skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden, about 2 minutes (watch carefully  – nuts burn in the blink of an eye!). Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.

With the food processor motor running, drop garlic cloves through the feed tube and process until finely chopped. Add walnuts and pulse until finely chopped. Add 2 cups basil, parsley, chives, lemon zest, salt and pepper and pulse until finely chopped. Run motor and pour olive oil through feed tube, processing until thoroughly combined. Pour in lemon juice and pulse a few more times. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl with a spatula. Add parmesan and blend until thoroughly combined.

Cook bucatini until al dente according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain the bucatini. Add bucatini back to pot and stir in 3/4 cup to 1 cup pesto, then stir in 1/3 cup reserved pasta water. Add more water, a splash at a time, until desired thinness is reached. Serve with more freshly grated parmesan and reserved basil leaves.

Refrigerate leftover pesto in a jar with a thin layer of olive oil poured over top to retain its bright green color. You can also freeze individual portions of pesto in an ice cube tray and store in a freezer bag.

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