I know it’s the middle of winter and basil isn’t exactly in season but sometimes in the cold, the best way to warm up is a taste of summer. And to me, summer tastes like pesto and oven burst cherry tomatoes. I did a little twist on the classic pesto that’s made with pine nuts and used extra buttery macadamia nuts instead for a nutty, savory macadamia parmesan pesto.
I’m obsessed with macadamias. I think they might just be my favorite nut. They’re buttery, they have a sweet nutty flavor, and they just so addictive, whether I’m eating them as a snack or if they’re in something like this pesto. I think the mac nuts give this pesto a little something extra. If you like pesto but you’re also into pesto variations, give this a try!
How to make pesto from scratch
Forget buying those tubs of pesto from the store, it’s super easy to make at home and you can do infinite combinations.
Pesto is a sauce from Italy, Genoa to be exact. Traditionally it’s made from crushed garlic, pine nuts, salt, basil, and either parmigiano or percorino, finished with olive oil. These days most people make it in a food processor, but back in the day it was made with a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a mortar and pestle or you can do what I did and use a knife.
Pesto is usually eaten with pasta but now there’s pesto chicken, pesto bread, pesto pizza, pesto potatoes, you name it, you can pesto it. It’s a super versatile sauce or condiment and it adds a hint of freshness and flavor to anything. It keeps for a few days in the fridge (it might start turning brown so be sure to push the plastic wrap right against the pesto so there’s no air contact) making it a great make ahead sauce.
Technically they probably won’t call it pesto in Italy, but there are a ton of pesto-type sauces you can make, seasonally or special diet wise.
- Swap out the nuts. I switched out pine nuts for macadamias – try your favorite nut.
- If you’re nut free, you can even use seeds like sunflower or sesame.
- You can also switch out the basil for any other herb or leafy green: cilantro, parsley,
- Try another oil: toasted sesame or even a neutral oil.
Go forth and pesto my friends!
Macadamia Parmesan Pesto
Macadamia nut and basil pesto, perfect for tossing with pasta.
Serves 1 cups pesto
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
- 1 large bunch basil, leaves only about 2 cups loosely packed
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup macadamia nuts
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
- extra virgin olive oil
On a large cutting board, chop the macadamia nuts with the garlic, scraping and chopping until fine.
Add half of the parmesan and mix in, chopping. When mixed in, add the remaining parmesan and mix/chop.
Add 1/3 of the basil leaves, chopping. Once loosely chopped, add more basil and chop, continuing to scrape, gather and chop until the basil and everything else is a very fine mince.
Move everything to a small bowl and drizzle and cover with olive oil. To store in the fridge, make sure the pesto is covered with olive oil and tightly wrap with plastic wrap with the wrap making contact with the oil.
Cook the pasta according to the instructions. Save 1 cup pasta water and drain well.
Toss the hot pasta with a generous amount of pesto and loosen with reserved pasta water, adding it tablespoon by tablespoon as needed. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Enjoy immediately, topped with roasted tomatoes, if desired.
Note: To roast the tomatoes, toss tomatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a 400°F oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring once, until softened and starting to burst.