Roasted Walnut & Garlic Pesto Sauce

If you follow me on Instagram [@balancewithb] you know that I have a slight obsession with zoodles! Since I can’t handle a big bowl of gluten, it is the perfect alternative to pasta for me.  Not only are zoodles healthier, but they are super easy and quick to make. If you are anything like me, once I find something I like, I tend to eat it for almost every meal. As much as I hate to admit, I probably eat zucchini noodles almost 4 to 5 times a week.  I was becoming lazy and bored with the sauce that I was adding to my dishes- and by sauce I mean- pouring store bought marinara sauce over the zoodles once they were cooked. With that being said, I needed to spice things up a bit and change the dish so I could fall in love again with zoodles!

Instead of the usual red sauce, I wanted to make a sauce that had texture and was more on the savory side.  This sauce is dairy free, full of flavor, and adds the perfect amount of crunch for each bite! I am not sure why it took me this long to make my own pesto sauce! It was hard to not eat the sauce by the spoonful since it was so fresh.

I know pesto is usually made with cheese, but this is just as good without it! (It freezes better, too!). I packed this pesto sauce with the usual suspects of fresh basil, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon, sea salt, and pepper.  I opted for walnuts instead of pine nuts to try something a little different. Toasting the walnuts and roasting the garlic really makes a difference in the taste of the sauce because it brings out a richer flavor, but it isn’t necessary.  All the flavors, especially the basil really packs a punch and in reality it is hard to mess this one up! I originally planned for this sauce to be used for my weekly zoodles feasts, but it would be great for pizza, tossed with pasta, chicken dishes, or a crusty piece of sourdough bread!


[Makes about 2 cups]
[Total time: 15-20 minutes]

1/2 cup of walnuts
1 head of garlic (5-6 cloves)
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 cups of basil leaves
Sea salt + pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet add the 1/2 cup of walnuts on one side and 5 to 6 cloves of garlic to the other side.  Drizzle olive oil over the garlic cloves.  Place the sheet into the oven and cook for 10 minutes.  The walnuts will be lightly browned and fragrant. Remove the walnuts from the pan and allow the nuts to cool.

Next, place the baking sheet with the garlic cloves back in the oven for 5 more minutes. 

Once the walnuts have cooled, add the walnuts to either a food processor or a blender. [I used my vitamix]. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into the food processor or blender and blend together with the walnuts for a few minutes.

Next, add the basil, sea salt, pepper, and the juice of half of a lemon.  While the food processor or blender is on, add the olive oil.  You may need to scrape the sides every so often so the sauce is mixed together and combined. 

I like the pesto sauce on the chunkier side; therefore I do not mix the walnuts all the way. Taste test and add additional salt, pepper, or basil leaves to your liking. 

This makes roughly 2 cups and stores best in the fridge for a week.  If you want to freeze the sauce, it will last 3 to 4 months.  I often make larger batches and place the left over pesto sauce in ice cube trays so I can have smaller individual servings ready to go!



PS. Before you go...looking for another amazing pesto recipe that is creamy, made with kale, and NUT-FREE?! My girl Rach has just what you need on her blog.  Check out the recipe....and then I am sure you will end up making one of her bliss balls.