Foodie Fridays with Shamus Quirk – Basil Pesto Sauce

  • Friday, January 19, 2018
  • Posted by Krisanne Butler in Cooking

One of my favorite things about cooking is its ability to evoke memories. When it’s getting late into the summer season around the end of July and beginning of August there’s usually an abundance of basil, one of my favorite herbs. Nothing brings me home to those memories in my mom’s kitchen quiet like Pesto. I was a fiend for this green goodness growing up. On any given night when I was asked what I wanted for dinner my answer was always “Pesto!” I didn’t care what my mom put it on; I just wanted that fresh taste of summer!

Pesto literally translates to paste in Italian. You can interchange any green, any nut, any oil and many hard cheeses to make a seemingly unlimited variety of pesto. In fact, a classic Italian basil pesto utilized pine nuts instead of walnuts, but my mom used walnuts most of the time, and it’s that flavor that I’m most accustom to. In the recipe above above I’ve chosen to showcase a classic family recipe, but I love making pesto out of any fresh herbs or greens that I have on hand. A well-balanced pesto can be a welcome and bright addition to any meal.

Basil Pesto Sauce


10                   oz                    Fresh Basil

2                      tbsp                Pecorino Romano

¼                     cup                  Toasted Walnuts, whole

2                      ea                    Garlic Cloves, large

¾                     cup                  Extra Virgin Olive Oil

½                    tsp                   Sea Salt

½                    tsp                   Ground Black Pepper



  • In boiling water, blanch the basil leaves for 30 seconds or less and immediately transfer to a cold-water bath to shock the basil. Ring out excess water and let drain.
  • In a food processor add the Parmesan and pulse until finely blended. Next add the walnuts and pulse once more.
  • Add in the garlic, basil and olive oil and pulse all ingredients in the food processor until the paste reaches your desired consistency.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.



Pro Tip: For your pesto to come out and remain the brightest green it can be, quickly (10 seconds or so) blanch the basil leaves in boiling water and wring out before making the pesto.


Basil is an absolutely essential ingredient to classic Pesto (and life to be honest. This fragrant herb has some seriously powerful health benefits. It is packed with Vitamins K, A, E, and C, and minerals like Magnesium (just to name a few!) . It is known to fight bacteria, viruses, and other immune challenges. Basil has been used therapeutically across the world for centuries, playing a part in both Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine. It can help to reduce inflammation in the body, aiding in the healing of autoimmune diseases and cancer due to its high antioxidant content. The list doesn’t stop there! Basil can also help to control blood glucose levels, and can be especially beneficial for people with diabetes.


Olive Oil is the healthy fat that allows our bodies to carry in the fat-soluble Vitamins A, E, and K of the basil in this recipe. We always recommend finding a source of olive oil that is cold-pressed, extra- virgin, and organic and not to use it for high heat cooking. Olive oil has a low smoke point, and becomes rancid if heated too high so it is best to use this mediterranean delight to finish dishes, or for low heat cooking. One of the best benefits of this nutrient dense oil is that it is superb at improving cardiovascular health.


Walnuts are brain food! Have you ever noticed that a walnut out of its shell looks like a mini brain? That is because they contain the vitamins, and essential fatty acids to support brain health. Walnuts also help to support cardiovascular function, as well as improve fertility in men! We love these nuts for their inflammation-fighting omega-3’s, and their versatile flavor.


Garlic has got to be one of our most beloved ingredients of all time. The flavor, aroma, and medicinal properties are enough to drive ya wild! In an earlier post, we discussed how garlic is a powerful anti-fungal, bacterial, viral, parasitic, and microbial food. You can use this stuff to heal almost anything! Another cancer fighting food, garlic is rich with antioxidants. It has been proven to help lower blood pressure, and cholesterol and can help the body detox from heavy metals. Raw garlic is great both internally, and topically to fight infections. We have to say, we have a strong love for this food, and no garlic breath is going to scare us away!

Pecorino Romano Cheeseis a traditional Italian cheese made from sheep milk. Cheeses made from sheep milk have more fat and less milk protein, making it easier to digest for most people. The fat content also makes it more rich and tasty as we have found! While cheese is not a major staple of our diet, we do enjoy Pecorino Romano as a flavorful addition to our pesto. This food is a good source of protein, and calcium. If you are lucky enough to have a local cheese maker who produces this easy-to-grate cheese, spend the extra money for the good quality stuff!

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