Recipe for Health: Garden Basil Walnut Pesto

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GardenBasil_Page_1Basil is reputed to improve the immune, digestive and cardiovascular systems. The flavonoids present act as antioxidants to protect the body’s cells from oxygen-based damage. Valuable oils present in basil act as an antibacterial protector for cells. The carotenoids in basil may also have some protection for the cells from free radical damage.

Garden Basil walnut Pesto

(Makes Six Servings)

2 cups fresh basil

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup walnuts

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

  • In a food processor combine basil, garlic and walnuts. Pulse until coarsely chopped.
  • Add the olive oil and process until smooth. Stir in the parmesan cheese.
  • Use as a topping for pasta or as the base for pizza instead of tomato sauce.

In the Kitchen

Basil is a highly fragrant member of the mint family who leaves combine the flavors and aromas of anise, clove and mint. Basil has become one of the most recognizable herbs and is associated with “pesto.” It can be added to just about any dish: vegetables, pasta, soup, bread dough, omelets or stir fry. It is especially complementary with tomatoes.

In the Garden

Basil is a companion to tomato, asparagus, pepper, oregano and petunias. It is a competitor to beans, cabbage, cucumber, rue and sage. Basil is said to be effective in repelling mosquitoes and fleas.


The name “basil” is derived from the old Greek word “basilikohn” which means “royal,” a reflection of the ancient culture which considered the herb noble and sacred. It is also revered as a symbol of hospitality in India and one of love in Italy.

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This recipe series is sponsored by the Center for Nutrition and Healthy Food Systems at Fletcher Allen, focused on building sustainable food in health care. 

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