Can I replace pine nuts with other nuts in a pesto sauce recipe?

  • Possible Duplicate:
    What is a good pine nut substitute for pesto?

    Pine nuts are very expensive here. I'm wondering if I can substitute any of the following:

    • Walnuts
    • Sunflower seeds
    • Almonds

    Would any of these be appropriate in a pesto sauce?

    try cashew/lemon zest/raisons

    I commonly see walnuts used instead of pinenuts in commercial pesto.

    @michael You add lemon/raison to pesto? What is zest?

    @gunbusters363 "lemon zest" is the rind of the lemon. It has a lemon flavor that endures longer than the juice. cashews + lemon zest + raisons + olive oil makes a delicious sweet pesto.I particularly like it with chicken.

    I thought lemon skin is very bitter?

    @gunbusters363 It's important to just use the yellow part and avoid the white part, which is bitter. Try it!

  • FuzzyChef

    FuzzyChef Correct answer

    9 years ago

    First, I'm assuming by "pesto" you mean "Pesto alla Genovese", given your question about pine nuts. Basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and cheese is a delicious combination, but it's only one of many "pestos" (peste, actually), since pesto refers in general to any sauce which is made from crushed or pureed ingredients. Mix and match to your heart's content.

    Walnuts are actually a traditional alternative to pine nuts for Pesto alla Genovese; pine nuts have always been scarce, even in early-20th-century Italy. As a caution, though, you need to get good, fresh walnuts and make sure to get all of the skin off the nuts, or the pesto will taste bitter and rancid.

    Almonds could also work, although I'd think they'd be rather bland. The herb pastes which traditionally have crushed almonds -- such as Romanesco sauce -- include some hot pepper. Again, freshness and getting the skin off is important.

    I'd think sunflower seeds would be kind of odd and oily, but you don't know until you try. If you do, post a comment to let us know!

    (Just as an anecdote) I've used almonds many many times in basil pesto; as long as you toast them properly first, they are delicious (though not the same as pine nuts, of course -- not nearly as fatty, for one thing).

    Well said. Cashews are a common alternative in commercial pesto

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