Always Toast Your Pine Nuts When Making Pesto For A Bolder Taste

Pesto is a versatile condiment that is as easy to make as it is to enjoy. Simply blend basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan, and olive oil together, and you have a perfect sauce for a classic pesto pasta or a beautiful dip to bring to any gathering. If you want to go beyond simple, however, there are several ways you can enhance your go-to pesto recipe. One technique we find has the biggest impact is to toast your pine nuts for a stronger, more sophisticated flavor.

Pine nuts are a lovely ingredient that, like many nuts and seeds, are rich in oil. While pine nuts have a mild taste and aroma when raw, introducing these oils to heat helps them become more fragrant and flavorful, intensifying their sweet and buttery flavor. Toasting pine nuts will also give them more crunch, which can make for an appealing texture in the final pesto.

The best way to toast pine nuts

You can toast all kinds of nuts in the oven or on the stove by exposing them to moderate heat until fragrant and golden. While toasting them on the stove is the quicker approach, doing so in the oven will produce more even and consistent results. Pine nuts are especially delicate and can burn easily, so we recommend opting for a low and slow oven method over a hot and fast one.

But if you would like to further elevate your pesto, you can do so in many ways. Try roasting the garlic for a sweet and mellow upgrade, or you can choose to blanch the basil before blending to ensure a bright green color. Additionally, you can swap out ingredients for an unorthodox flavor. Try substituting walnuts for pine nuts or swapping basil for another leafy green to make a spinach or cilantro pesto.