What's for Dinner: Linguine with Lemon Walnut Pesto

As summer winds down, enjoy a bit of September sunshine in the form of this lemony walnut pesto. To toast the walnuts, spread them on a cookie sheet in a single layer and place in a 350-degree-F oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until the nuts are golden and slightly fragrant.

Credit: Summer, Winter Pasta by Grace Parisi

Servings: 4


  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pound linguine
  • Lemon balm (optional)


In a food processor, combine the walnuts, lemon zest and red pepper flakes, pulsing until finely chopped. With the machine running, add the oil in a steady stream, pulsing until a coarse paste forms. Transfer to a large bowl, stir in the lemon juice and season with salt. Set aside.

Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain well, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water.

Add the pasta to the pesto and toss, adding some of the reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the pasta seems dry. Toss until mixed well.

To serve, divide the pasta among large bowls and sprinkle with some shredded fresh lemon balm, if desired.

Substitution tips: Almonds and pecans both work nicely in place of the walnuts. Lemon thyme is a good substitute if lemon balm is not available.

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Use a food processor once, and you'll find yourself turning to it again and again. Shop for a food processor.

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