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Is Oregano overtaking your garden? No; it seems to be a problem that is specific to my garden. My oregano does get out of hand therefore I started conceptualizing a recipe that would use it up. I saw a recipe in some magazine that showed you can make your own pesto with essentially any combination of nut, herb, oil and hard cheese. Coincidentally, I had just received 34lbs of walnuts thanks to my job. With excess we create a demand, thus I present my Oregano Walnut Pesto.
For me, growing oregano has been extremely easy. The plant is in a half-wine-barrel planter that I made into an herb bed. It is growing well along side Rosemary, Chives, Ginger, Mint and Sage. The soil that I planted it in was half potting soil and half homemade compost. The photo above was taken after one year of planting a 4" nursery purchased plant. I live in Central California (Gardening zone 9: find your garden zone here*) I usually have oregano year round, though growth slows tremendously during our cooler season. As you can imagine, when I planted it, I did not use much Oregano, now the plant stays pretty shapely.
First you will want to harvest your oregano as closely to making the pesto as possible. I love to harvest right before I make it. I first give the stems and initial rinsing. Then I strip the leaves off the woodier part of the stems and leaving the soft stems. Wash more thoroughly. Finally, I toss the leaves in a salad spinner to wick away any excess water.
The walnuts that I have on hand were gifted to me by the farmer that grew them. He gave me 34 pounds when I told him about this recipe! So we froze a lot of it and have been working through it slowly. Measuring halved walnuts is strange because I had only ever purchase crushed walnuts. The volume can probably be taken down to a light 1/2 cup with crushed walnuts.
While, I could have used my mother's homegrown garlic, these are store bought. Whomp, whomp, whomp. This garlic is pretty potent in comparison and I wish I would have used just one clove. I personally think garlic in recipes is a suggestion and should be adjusted according to taste. For example I will do two cloves if I am planning to cook the pesto into a dish. If I'm going to be enjoying it raw then one clove is sufficient.
Add the walnuts, garlic and the oregano to the food processor and give a good blend.
After the produce is blending I add the parmesan, yes I buy pre-shredded cheese. I like to start with a 1/2 cup of cheese and depending on consistency and flavor I may add more. The cheese is nice to make the oregano a little less pungent. I add the cheese to the food processor and blend it up well and I follow up with dumping the oil after even through it does not really blend well. Some day I will get a mortar and pestle and be able to make a beautiful pesto.
For now this is what it looks like. If I am not planning to use it all immediately I will store it in the fridge in a lidded container for up to three days. When I have made larger batches, I will freeze some. My favorite way to consume my pesto is just toasted on some bread as a side with dinner. Another way I really enjoy it is as a replacement for sauce in a pasta dish. Pretty much any way that you might use a traditional pesto sauce, try Oregano Walnut Pesto instead.
Please let me know if you tried this recipe and feel free to share it with me on my socials!
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