Joined Aug 20, 2002
I have been making pesto sauce for a few years now. The problem I am having is the price of pine nuts. My question is, can I use some other kind of "nut" like almonds?

Joined Aug 29, 2000
Hi, dlebeck, and welcome to Chef Talk.

I've used toasted walnuts in pesto, and it's quite good.
Joined Dec 30, 1999
Sure! Welcome to ChefTalk.

Use your favorite nuts...

Serves 4

4 ounces (about 3/4 cup) whole blanched almonds
4 medium cloves garlic
28 medium basil leaves
11 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
11 medium mint leaves
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Crushed red-pepper flakes
1.Heat oven to 350¡. Spread almonds on a small baking sheet. Bake until light golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a shallow bowl, and set aside to cool.
2.Combine almonds, garlic, basil, parsley, mint, and oil in the bowl of a food processor. Process until well combined. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and crushed red-pepper flakes.

Here are tons of pesto recipes not using pine nuts.

Joined Oct 28, 1999
Maybe a bit peculiar, but I substitute toasted sunflower seeds. They have a nice, fatty content and a flavor that is remarkably similair to pignolis. Ooohhh and cheap, too!


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
Arugula "pesto" with almonds. There are many herb and nut combinations that you can make "pesto" with. Though it may not be a true pesto, you can come up with some very fun, and interesting sauces, or "pestos".
Joined Jul 24, 2001
Thanks Jim, my husband will be grateful since he adores sunflower seeds.
Prefer to use those that they come from Israel. They are the best! :)
Joined Jan 1, 2001
While nuts are very, very good in pestos of various kinds, they are not absolutely neccessary to the recipe. I have seen many recipes that do not include nuts of any sort and are very good.
It's also a valid chocie considering the growing number of people who have or develop allergic sensitivities to nuts.
Personally, I like nuts in pesto. Walnuts, suflower seeds and almonds (as described by our friends above) are very good substitutes for pine nuts.
If you every feel like slurging, though, try subbing in macadamia nuts! Wow! Talk about a bite of heaven!
Joined May 26, 2001
I've made cilantro "pesto" with toasted pumpkin seeds and jalapeno, along with the cilantro, garlic, oil, and cheese (Romano). Also used pistachios in regular (basil) pesto -- although that doesn't really bring the cost down (just happened to have them on hand). Also toasted walnuts.

I love experimenting, so I'd probably use almost any kind of nut that has a distinctive flavor. I doubt I'd use Brazil nuts -- too bland -- but almost any other would be fair game. And I'd ALWAYS toast them first, to bring up the flavor.
Joined Aug 29, 2000
The terminology is interesting... is the "classic" we think of with basil specifically called "pesto genovese"? Can't anything else be just "pesto"?

Pongi, what's the verdict? :confused: :confused:
Joined Jan 11, 2002
...A few days late as I was on holiday :)

The term "Pesto" in itself is very generic, and indicates many sauces and condiments made crushing together the ingredients in a mortar. (As an adjective, the word "pesto" simply means "crushed" or "beaten")
Which ingredients doesn't matter, as in Italy there are lots of different Pestos, coming from various regions and made of different things...vegetables, nuts, herbs, lard or other fats, meat (I know even a "Pesto d'Asino" made of raw donkey meat, garlic, oil and parsley)
Since the most famous italian pesto is the Genovese one, it has become the "Pesto" par excellence, but its real name is "Pesto Genovese" or "alla Genovese"...I'll update you about the Pesto war for the final answer about the officially admitted ingredients, but it "should" contain ONLY basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmigiano and Pecorino cheese, salt and EVOO.
If your sauce contains other ingredients (different types of nuts and herbs included) according to the prevalent opinion it cannot be called "Pesto Genovese"...but there's no doubt that it CAN be called "Pesto", ("Mezzaluna Pesto", "Jim Pesto" and so on... ;) ) for the above mentioned reason!

Joined Jul 24, 2001
Thanks Pongi! Very Interesting ( What does Pongi mean BTW ? :D)
Since I am pro appelation and authenticity I wish the best to the city of Genoa.

Pesto belongs to Genovesi!
Joined Jan 11, 2002
You're welcome Athenaeus! :)
As for's short for "Pongauer" but it's likely this doesn't help you that much:D
In any case, this is my favourite private nickname, and my online identity as well due to affective reasons, but it's not food-related

Joined Dec 15, 1999
Not exactly an altenative.

There may be other options but pinenuts are a great thing. Cost can vary immensly. Never buy in trendy stores! I usaully buy mine in chinese stores. I don't know why but they seem to cost almost half than the anywhere else.
I use them in everything, from appatizers to dessert, but that's a different thread.
Joined Sep 3, 2002
I agree with the chinese pine nuts. I buy them through a food purveyer and they do cost less than the non- chinese brands.
Besides, i use them toasted, on my house salad so i buy the 10lb box. The quantity seems to bring the price down a bit too.
Joined Apr 19, 2001
Why taste, Isa? I've always found them fresher than the grocery store, because their turnover is so high. Just curious!


Joined Apr 4, 2000
I always taste nuts before buying them Marm, an old habit. Imagine coming home and discover your nuts aren't fresh.
Joined Nov 29, 2001
I second the toasted walnuts recommendation - in addition, Sam's Club or Costco have enormous bags of pignoli for very reasonable prices. At holiday time, I buy all my nuts and chocolate chips, etc., from bulk stores.
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