Pesto, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love this sauce. The fresh smell of basil is probably my second favorite herb. It is related to the peppermint, but is completely different and can be found used from Italy to Thailand.
What I like most about it is it’s delicate, nuanced flavor when rough chopped and floated in soups, like my Lemon Basil Shrimp Soup, or that added flavor weapon when mixed into a dessert like my Blueberry, Strawberry, Goat Cheese and Basil Tart.
For this recipe I decided to utilize some roasted cashews I had leftover from holiday baking and instead of the usual toasted pine nuts, I added the cashews to my Lemon Cashew Pesto for a fantastic twist on a simple, delicious pasta sauce.
This recipe isn’t rocket science. It’s simple and packed quite the flavor to the whole wheat pasta I made with some sautéed chicken. The lemon zest brightened it up and the red pepper flakes added a little back note of heat. Feel free to omit if you like.
Add the cashews, garlic cloves, zest of half a lemon, pinch kosher salt, pinch of red pepper flakes and the freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese to a food processor. Blend with pulsing motion for a minute or so to breakdown and form a paste.
This alone was worth a taste test it smelled so good and I might have to revisit this part as a coating for chicken… but back to this recipe.
Next add the basil and with processor running slowly add the oil in a steady stream to blend thoroughly.
This makes almost 3 cups of fresh pesto which can be used over hot pasta, as a dipping sauce or spread.
I decided to sauté some chicken and toss it in with the cooked whole wheat pasta. A sprinkle of some fresh Parmesan-Reggiano and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice on top made for a perfect dinner.
The delicious, nutty flavor of the cashews and the basil make for a fantastic pesto. I hope you like it as much as I do, enjoy!
- ¾ cup cashews
- 4 medium sized garlic cloves
- zest of half a lemon
- pinch kosher salt
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
- 3 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Add all ingredients except for basil and olive oil to food processor. Blend with pulsing motion for a minute or so to breakdown and form a paste.
- Next add the basil and with processor running slowly add the oil in a steady stream to blend thoroughly.
- This makes almost 3 cups of fresh pesto which can be used over hot pasta, as a dipping sauce or spread.