Spiced Hazelnut Pesto

pesto 2

Hazelnuts, basil, mint, dill, sage, cinnamon, paprika; one of the most lavish spreads of robustly flavoured aphrodisiacs, that blend to marry a spicy mediterranean style pesto, to make any dish a meltingly delectable feast. I use it with everything – pasta, with toast & poached eggs, a base for salad dressings, smeared atop a seared hanger steak, the possibilities are endless. Fresh herbs are a beautifully condensed packages of nutrients, flavour & fragrance, which should be used in every meal possible! I try to use at least one fresh herb in every meal of the day, and one day I will stop buying those silly wilting bunches from Trader Joes, and start my own herb garden to supplement my healthy habit : )

To help you bust out of your traditional pesto habits let me tell you how this goes: the blend of those four herbs give you a wide spectrum from minty to spicy and velvet, the paprika gives it a kick to blush your palate, and the toasted hazelnuts and the cinnamon a sweet side that balances that of the savoury and zesty. Of course you can swap out any of these things for what herbs or nuts you have around – almost everything will go – this particular blend is my current favourite.

When I did my first round of this, the blender was down. So, I pulled out my large mortar and pestle, and to got grinding by hand which is a laborious yet calming and grounding (pun intended) process. You are allowed to spend time and appreciate each new smell and texture, and the marriage they create when the next ingredient is added to the mix. As I stirred my rustic cauldron of delight, it got me thinking about potions. For thousands of years, witches, brujas, shamans, women and men alike have used herbs to create the ultimate love potion, and concoctions to evoke desire – but I can only imagine those stews never evoked passion of the tongue or tastebud. With the libido and vigor inducing nutrients this pesto, and it’s hypnotic flavours, this my friends, is the modern-day love concoction ; )




  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup packed mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup packed dill leaves
  • 1/4 cup packed sage leaves
  • 2/3 cup good quality olive oil (more or less depending on how you like the consistency)
  • 2/3 cup toasted hazelnuts
  • Juice and zest from half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp of honey (just to brighten it a bit ; )
  • a few pinches of cayenne to taste (be bold!)
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • salt and pepper

Blend in a food processor, or if you’re feeling inspired and have some luxurious time on your hands, with mortar and pestle – if you do the mortar and pestle, best to make a smaller batch as you would like to leave some muscle capacity for the rest of your evening… Add olive oil until you have your desired consistency and keep in a jar for anything you desire!

pesto 1


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