Nuts about pesto? Try our walnut and rocket pesto recipe using seasonal market produce available at Melbourne Farmers Market.

There’s nothing quite like whipping up a fresh batch of pesto.

Once you’ve tried it yourself, you’ll never be able to enjoy store bought pesto again.

Stir it through pasta, spread it on toast, add a dollop to minestrone, or just eat it straight from the jar, the possibilities are endless.

One of the best things about pesto is that you can fine tune it to your tastes; add more or less garlic, make it chunky or fine, use seasonal ingredients available at the time.

You might not always have basil handy in winter, so you can substitute it for rocket as we have in this recipe. The same goes for the nuts – pine nuts are the classic for pesto, but walnuts are just as delicious and offer a different flavour profile for a winter table.

This recipe features producers at Fairfield Farmers Market; St James Walnuts , Weyhill Farm Garlic and OzFresh wild rocket. You can find walnuts, garlic, rocket and citrus at Melbourne Farmers Markets throughout August.

St James Walnuts are grown just out of Melbourne at Bannockburn. Fourth generation farmer James Parker has spent the last 20 years planting and nurturing walnut trees. He now supplies Melbourne Farmers Markets, along with some of the best restaurants and fresh produce stores in Melbourne and surrounds.

James uses Biodynamic practices to produce the best quality, organically certified walnuts.

Unlike other growers who crack all their walnuts once a year, James only cracks his walnuts once a week, ensuring absolute freshness.

You’ll taste the difference, especially in this pesto where lightly toasting the nuts beforehand brings out the best of their nutty flavour.

Top tips for a perfecto pesto

  • Don’t add everything into a blender all at once, you’ll end up with a super fine pesto with a dull flavour
  • Use good quality, mild extra virgin olive oil that won’t overpower the other ingredients
  • Toast the walnuts first to bring out the best of their nutty flavour

Prep time: 10 minutes

Makes one jar’s worth of pesto

Ingredients

  • ½ cup St James Walnuts, Alpine Nuts or King Valley Walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 clove Weyhill Farm Garlic
  • 100g Oz Fresh rocket
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

In a blender, whizz the rocket and garlic together, slowly pouring in the olive oil at the same time.

Next add the walnuts, pulsing to incorporate. If you like a chunky pesto, pulse gently only a few times. If you prefer a smoother pesto, pulse more so that the walnuts become finer in the mixture.

Stir in the grated parmesan cheese and lemon juice with a mixing spoon and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Use the pesto right away, or store in the fridge for up to 3 days. If storing: pour a little olive oil over the pesto to keep it bright.

Recipe and images by MFM contributor Vanessa Fletcher

Instagram @fletcherjournal