This Mushroom Walnut Pesto Spread or pate is a rich and delicious appetizer when served with crackers or chips. It also makes a delicious and easy dinner when served over cooked pasta.
Earthy mushrooms combine with fresh basil and bitter walnuts to make a delicious full flavored pesto that everyone will love. They’ll all be asking for your recipe!
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Your questions answered
It makes a fairly big batch of pesto. What else can I do with it?
It’s delicious and impressive to serve as a spread or pate with crackers and cheese. Perfect for any cheese plate, holiday appetizer spread, or party.
Serve this Mushroom Walnut Pesto over cooked pasta for an easy to make and deliciously healthy dinner. Reserve a little of the pasta cooking water after boiling the pasta. Toss the cooked pasta with pesto, and pour in a little pasta cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce.
Try making stuffed peppers with Mushroom Walnut Pesto. Either sweet peppers or spicy peppers will work. A whole batch of Mushroom Walnut Pesto will stuff 6 to 8 medium peppers. Try poblanos for a spicy kick, or green bell peppers for a more mild dinner. The peppers can either be already roasted or raw. After filling the peppers with the pesto, bake at 400° F for 6-8 minutes, or until heated through.
And speaking of stuffed, this Mushroom Walnut Pesto makes a great stuffed pasta shell. Cook the large pasta shells, and fill with pesto. I’d top them with a little more cheese, and pop them into a 375° F oven for 10-15 minutes.
The color seems to change in the leftovers
Ok, that really isn’t a question, but more of a statement, but you get it!
Yes, the color of the pesto will change, especially if you have leftovers and put them in the fridge.
The basil is turning black because it’s oxidizing when it’s exposed to the air, the same an apple or potato will brown and oxidize, and this process seems to speed up in the fridge, as basil is particularly sensitive to cold.
Treat the basil gently when handling and washing it. I like to wash mine in the salad spinner, using tepid water for rinsing. It gets bruised less easily in the salad spinner. Also, don’t wash basil until you are ready to use it.
If you don’t use a salad spinner, when you wash it, pat it dry gently, and don’t squash it.
And, as for those leftovers, they are perfectly safe to eat for a day or two, even if they have turned a bit brown. They may have lost a bit of their flavor, as basil will tend to do that. If you aren’t keen on the darker color, simply take a spoon and scrape off the top layer of the leftover pesto. The underside will be bright green again.
Can I freeze the leftovers?
Yes, you can freeze the pesto leftovers.
Take a large tray or cookie sheet, cover it with parchment paper or waxed paper, and drop the pesto by large spoonfuls, and pop in the freezer. When the pesto blocks are frozen, take the parchment paper off, and toss in zip top bags. You have a good beginning pesto for use in soups, stews, pasta dishes, or risotto.
Can I substitute?
Want to use low fat cream cheese instead of full fat? Of course you can. It won’t be as rich if you use low fat, but the recipe will still work.
And, though I haven’t tried it, I think you could substitute Greek yogurt for the cream cheese as well. It will give a tangy-er flavor, but still have the creaminess you want in this pesto spread.
What kind of mushrooms should I use?
Any kind of edible mushroom will work just fine for this recipe. For the spread that you see in the pictures, I used white button mushrooms. I thought the color of the final spread would be pretty that way. Brown crimini mushrooms will also work, they’ll just produce a darker colored pesto for the start.
I wouldn’t recommend going with expensive exotic mushrooms for this dish, as there are so many flavors going on, the added expense just isn’t necessary. Though if you had some you were trying to use up, by all means, toss them in!
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Mushroom Walnut Pesto Recipe
Mushroom Walnut Pesto
- Preheat oven to 350° Place pine nuts and walnuts in a single layer in an ungreased shallow pan or rimmed baking sheet. Bake 5 to 10 minutes or until they are golden brown. Remove from pan to cool.
- In a food processor, pulse cream cheese and garlic until soft and creamy. Add in basil leaves, mushrooms, salt, oil, toasted and cooled walnuts and pine nuts, and puree until smooth. Place pesto mixture in a large mixing bowl, and stir in the grated Parmesan cheese. Mix well.
- Immediately serve with crackers, chips, or veggies as a spread or dip. Or serve over freshly cooked pasta. Or stuff into peppers or cooked pasta shells.