I love a traditional pesto. Unfortunately, the summer’s plethora of sweet basil is long-gone. Prices of pine nuts have sky-rocketed (or where they always so exorbitant?). The pantry is barren of classic pesto staples – I must adapt.

There is an oddly pleasing, immensely satisfying feeling engendered from using the food that you have. It is gratifying to know that waste is being avoided and something scrumptious is being created. Tonight, I will use the herbs and nuts that are available – and a surprisingly balanced, savory pesto is born.

 This “In-a-Pinch Pesto” will be tossed with hot, roasted vegetables…


Including pumpkin, zucchini and red onion…

DSC_1411and steaming, al dente whole wheat pasta spirals…


The bounty is topped with a tender, buttery fillet of succulent halibut.


… And another slather of pesto and extra sprinkling of cured, hard and salty pecorino sardo.

I reject the antiquated notion that fromage and fish shall never meet on a plate. In this dish, they sing together in perfect harmony.


I hope that you whip ups some glorious, green sauce using the greens and nuts in your kitchen now. Arugula? Spinach? Pistachios? Almonds?

The sky’s the limit.


Click Here to Print Recipe

In-a-Pinch Pesto

Healthy and full of flavor!


6 large cloves of garlic

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 cups parsley leaves (or herb of choice)

3 cups cilantro leaves (or herb of choice)

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 cup roasted walnuts (or nut of choice)

2 Tbsp. lime or lemon juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup finely grated, aged pecorino sardo


1.) In a food processor, process the garlic, salt and pepper until well minced. Add the parsley, cilantro and oregano and process until finely chopped. Add the walnuts and process until also finely chopped.

2.) With the motor running, drizzle in the lime juice. Next, slowly add the olive oil.

3.) Add the cheese and pulse, just until combined. Taste and re-season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Enjoy!


©Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, (2013), unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author, Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, and/or owner is strictly and completely prohibited.


Like Curls and Carrots on Facebook:

Follow me on Pinterest:

Follow me on Twitter:


20 thoughts on “In-a-Pinch-Pesto

    1. Thank you, Chef Janet! I am glad that you like the recipe.

      I love a good pesto. The addiction of a bit of sharp onion or sweet shallot sounds like a lovely idea. I will have to try it next time I whip up a batch!

      Have a great day!

    1. Thank you, Ada. You are too kind and so sweet, as usual.

      Pesto is so versatile – as Chef Janet mentioned in a previous comment, so many different components can yield a great pesto.

      Let me know how your next from-the-fridge pesto turns out! Pesto is great on eggs, mixed with butter for pesto-butter or mayonnaise for pesto-mayonnaise, etc. etc.! A life without pesto is one I don’t want to know. hehe.

      1. Ada, I am so elated to hear that you have been inspired by pesto. I consider it a food group in and of itself. 😉 Post a photo of your pesto! ! ! 🙂 The basil and pecan duo sounds scrumptious.

  1. Interesting pesto, i love pestos 🙂 I also noticed that the prices of pine nuts have soared, and another blog I read also mentioned it today. It seems to be a worldwide thing. Maybe this calls for some investigation!

  2. I was with ya, Shanna, right up until I came upon the cilantro. I’m just not a fan. Still, I agree with all else and I put pesto on everything. Although I can get basil year-round, it’s not nearly as abundant as in Summer. I’ll usually use parsley and even mint to stretch it. Just last weekend, I saw organic, Italian-grown, pignoli for $12.99/4 oz.! China’s pine nuts are the cheapest and Turkey’s are in the middle. Pesto pasta isn’t the cheap meal it once was, I’m afraid. Like you, I’ll often substitute walnuts. 🙂

    1. Hi, John. You are SO right. Many people find cilantro to have a soapy taste. I hope that when folks read this recipe, they realize that any green they love – from kale to arugula – can be substituted. Pesto making is fun and always yields a different result based on what is in my refrigerator.

      I cannot believe how expensive pignolis are, either. And it is also funny that they are yet another thing produced in China for Americans. Especially ironic because pignolis are Italian! hehe.

      It’s great that you can get fresh basil year-round. I am now seeing it is smmmmaalllll packages for $5.00. *sigh*

      I suppose the highest quality fresh pasta, authentic pesto and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano are worth their weight in gold. 😉

      Walnuts are always a good bet – pecans are also quite pricey these days!

      1. I am a diehard fan of cilantro. I never taste “the so called soap” people talk about. I use it for most of my cooking although I must admit I’ve never tried to make pesto with it, but I’m going to try this week and I’ll give you a feedback. Pine nuts are out of my vocabulary. At $80 a kilo…I just can’t see myself buying, today, tomorrow or ever. Thanks for sharing and Happy Halloween!

      2. 1 kilo = 2.2 pounds = $36.36 per pound. OH my gosh! That is completely insane? Out of my vocabulary at that price… what is a pignole again? 😉

        If you like cilantro, you will love it in pesto. I like to mix it with at least one other herb or greenery, though. Even though I like the flavor, it is still heavy on the palate, so to speak. Let me know how yours turns out! 🙂

        Happy Halloween, Indeed! 🙂 The kids are excited!

  3. What a fabulous idea throwing some cilantro in there Shanna! We love cilantro and I could just imagine how fresh it must taste. I really should give this a try. Thanks Shanna!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s