Walnut Pesto and Being Grateful

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Yesterday was the six year anniversary of my uncle’s passing. His death was really hard on his children and wife as well as my father (his brother). My cousin Alison (and daughter to this uncle), lives close to us in Durham. Yesterday she came and helped Rajat and I clean our old apartment before we turn the keys over. Before my cousin arrived to help us clean, Rajat and I had gotten into a stupid argument. My cousin could tell that we were unhappy with each other, and she gave us such simple advice on a day that I am certain was painful for her: “Be grateful for each other.” It was a heartfelt reminder that there is so much in life to be grateful for, and we often take for granted the things we have in front of us. 

One of the things I am most grateful for at this point in life is having relatives near to Rajat and I. When we got married, we had no money and no jobs. We had no idea where we would end up. We knew we wanted to be close to family, but we weren’t sure that was an option. Thankfully, Rajat found a job in the RDU area which allowed us to stay close to his sister’s family and my cousin. My cousin and sister-in-law were two people that I hardly knew when we moved here but have really grown into best friends for me. I am incredibly grateful to be living in a city with two strong female family members/friends who I can rely on and lean on.

On Monday, my sister-in-law’s family was driving back from Atlanta and did an impromptu stop at our home for dinner on their way back to Raleigh. I made a quick walnut pesto pasta for dinner which is where this recipe is coming from. These are my favorite kind of gatherings, ones that are off the cuff and unplanned. Because family is for feeding you when you have no groceries. Because family is helping your cousin clean her apartment. Because family is watching one another’s kids. Because family is taking the dog for a walk. Because family is helping each other move. Because family is bringing sweets back from your vacation.

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My father and my Uncle Bruce, who is now gone, both had such a commitment to family, and I love that they have passed that on to me. I am so grateful for my husband and our family who live close to us and want to spend time with us. It really makes life all the more special and worthwhile. Thanks to my cousin for reminding me to take the time to be grateful today.


Walnut Pesto


  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 3 cups of fresh basil leaves (a little more or less is fine)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Soak the walnuts in some water for 30 minutes to reduce any bitterness.
  2. In a food processor, add walnuts, garlic, and little bit of olive oil. Pulse a few times to begin to break these larger items down. This will make it so you don’t have to beat the basil to death in the next step.
  3. Add basil, salt, and pepper. Start food processor, and while it is going, add the olive oil in a steady stream. Process until the ingredients are combined. Add the chees and process until you get a thick sauce. You may want to use a bit less or more oil depending on the consistency you want.
  4. Add to cooked pasta, paninis, or use as a dip.

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