Basil and Roasted Walnut Pesto over Pan Seared Halibut

When I was growing up I thought there were only two types of nuts, peanuts and walnuts.  My Mother adores walnuts.  If we were out of milk and bread, we’d still have an endless supply of walnuts. 

We would often find them in our cookies, muffins, cakes, pies, on our oatmeal, in our cereal and sometimes on our spaghetti.  Walnuts were the Taylor family nut.  So, as you can imagine, it was a beautiful day when I discovered there were many other types of nuts to be consumed.  

Consequently, I moved on to other delicious nuts such as pecans and hazelnuts.  And just like my Mother, I too have an endless supply of pecans and hazelnuts in my freezer.  

As luck would have it, nuts are extremely healthy and highly recommended in our daily diets.  As well, I think my Mother knew a thing or two, because walnuts seem to get the highest of praise from nutritionists and doctors when it comes to heart healthy foods.   Here is a great article on the benefits of walnuts:

Naturally, I decided it was time to jump back into the walnut bag and create something yummy with these healthy little nuts.  Because walnuts aren’t my favorite, I roast them to give them a little extra flavor and crunch.  So when I was thinking about how to use my giant container of fresh basil, I thought, why not a basil and roasted walnut pesto?  It’s simple, delicious and can be whipped up in a snap. 

I tested this recipe over pan seared halibut, however, I think it would delicious over any type of grilled or roasted chicken, or tossed with your favorite pasta and then sprinkled with toasted bread crumbs.  And of course, I’d even drizzle this lovely little pesto over my favorite creamy polenta.  I also tested this pesto over crostini, topped it with a little roll of proscuitto ham and thin slice of parmesan for a fun bruschetta starter.  Divine!

Make dinner fresh, simple and delicious.  Happy Cooking!

Serves 4-6


1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed

½ cup roasted coarsely chopped walnuts

½ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons lemon juice

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

1 ½ – 2 lbs fresh Halibut


Using a food processor or blender, add the basil, walnuts, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and olive oil.  Blend until nicely pureed.   If needed add a tablespoon or two of water.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To pan sear the halibut, heat a large oven proof skillet on medium high heat with a high heat oil such as safflower or sunflower oil.  Season the halibut with salt and pepper and when the oil is hot add it to the pan.  Turn the heat down to medium and let the halibut sear for several minutes.  Typically the fish will turn easily when it’s ready. If it won’t budge, let it sit a little longer.  Sear on each side for several minutes, and if the fish is thick, pop it in a preheated 375F oven to finish cooking.

To oven roast the halibut, preheat the oven to 375F.  Drizzle a little olive oil over the halibut and season with a little salt and pepper.  Place in a baking dish and roast until the fish is flaky to the touch.  This will be about 8-10 minutes depending on thickness

When the halibut is done, squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over the halibut and then transfer to individual plates or a platter.  Top each portion of fish with a tablespoon of two of pesto.  Serve immediately.

Options: This pesto is also delicious on grilled or roasted chicken breasts.  Serve with roasted fresh spring asparagus, roasted sweet potatoes with honey butter or a salad of fresh greens with citrus vinaigrette.


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