Italian, The Weekly Menus and Recipes, Vegetarian

Recipe 4.1: Penne with Lemon, Walnut, and Basil Pesto

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Recipe 4.1:  Penne with Lemon, Walnut, and Basil Pesto

I made this recipe as part of a pasta bar for our good friends’ going-away party a week ago. I loved it so much that I already made it again! The toasted walnuts and lemon juice blend perfectly with the basil to create a thick, bright, delicious pesto that perfectly covers the penne. Serve alongside a fresh green salad, if you like.


1 lb. penne pasta

1 lemon

1 cup walnuts

1 large bunch basil

½ cup parmesan



olive oil


Heat a large saucepan filled halfway with water over high heat. Once water reaches boiling, add 1 tbs. salt and ½ tbs. oil. Add pasta. Cook according to package directions, approx. 5-6 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta water.

While water boils, toast the walnuts in a medium, dry skillet over medium heat.  Flip (or stir) frequently.  Toast until fragrant (be careful not to burn!), around 7 minutes.

While pasta cooks, prepare pasta. Coarsley chop washed basil leaves and add to food processor, along with the juice of 1 lemon (make sure no seeds fall in), parmesan cheese, and the toasted walnuts. Season with salt and pepper, then turn on processor. Flow oil into the mixture as it processes. You’ll end up adding about ¼ cup olive oil. You don’t want the pesto to be too oily, but you need just enough to hold the mixture together.

Combine pasta and pesto in a large bowl. Add a little reserved pasta water as necessary, to thin the pesto and increase adherence to pasta. Serve hot and enjoy!