Basil and Walnut Pesto for Caprese Naan ‘Za!

BasilPorchbfLOThis year’s batch o’ basil is doing quite well, ThankYouVeryMuch. I don’t know if it’s the close proximity to the porch maple or some other mystery factor, but the only time the beetles have found it this year is the weekend I shifted the pot from one part of the porch (and away from the maple) to another while we were out of town.

Those beetles dealt with, and the basil back by its Acer palmatum bud, I now have a good and plentiful supply for all our basil needs…

01bBasilParsleyWalnutsbfLOlike, pesto!

Thing is, I am not a fan of the flavor of the pine nuts I’ve been finding locally. Then, I heard a story on NPR where Julia della Croce took inspiration from a trip to Sicily and made a pistachio-based pesto, with just a bit of fresh parsley added to the blend, that she assured the listeners was quite nice.


Basil and parsley were in teh garden, and I just so happened to have a tub of raw walnuts – hey, if Ms. della Croce good leap from pignoli to pistachios, I could take a hop to walnut town.

03bBasilWalnutsProcessorbfLOBut first, those raw walnuts; I blanched mine by placing them in a large metal sieve and immersing them in boiling water for three minutes. Remove from the water, rinse well under cold running water, drain, and pat dry.

Walnuts blanched, let’s talk pesto!

•2 cups torn basil leaves, packed
•1/2 cup fresh parsley
•1 cup blanched walnuts
•3 cloves garlic
•1/2 cup olive oil
•1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
•Black pepper
•Aleppo pepper

04bPestobfLOWash and dry the basil and parsely, then add to the bowl of your food processor fitted with the metal blade.

Add the garlic, walnuts, sea salt, black and Aleppo pepper, then cover and pulse to chop.

Add the olive oil and pulse to blend – there – you now have pesto!

05bNaanPestoCheesebfLONote: some pesto recipes call for adding 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese. Feel free to do this, if you like, but I had other plans for this batch o’ green goodness.

Naan Caprese ‘Za! on teh grill!

I’d made a fresh batch of naan the day before, but feel free to buy a batch, or any other flatbread you prefer.

06aNaanCapreseZabfLOHeat your grill to medium for indirect cooking.

Arrange the naan on a platter and spread with the pesto.

Top each naan with a few slices of fresh mozzarella, then add sliced tomato and, if you like (we do) sliced black olives and a bit of nice pepperoni – check your deli case.

Place the naan directly on the grill, but not over the flame, then close the grill and cook for three minutes or so, just until the cheese is melted and the ‘za! is nicely warmed through and just a bit crispity.

Sprinkle with a bit of fresh coarse sea salt and a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar (we use this 25 year old stuff that rocks!) and enjoy.

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