As promised, here is my pesto recipe post. This is quick and easy to make in the food processor, and is such a handy staple to have in your fridge or freezer.
Heavy, greasy store-bought pesto sauces served over pasta were never my thing. I tended to prefer pesto more as a condiment rather than in a starring recipe role for that reason. Now after figuring out how to make a simple pesto that tastes great without leaving me feeling gross, I will even enjoy it over pasta.
Traditionally, pesto is made with pine nuts, which tend to be pretty expensive. My cousin also recently enlightened me about a phenomenon known as “pine nut syndrome” in which eating pine nuts can cause a bitter or metallic taste to linger in your mouth for up to 2 weeks, making everything you eat taste awful (read more about it here). So I ditched the pine nuts in favor of my new culinary workhorse, raw cashew nuts. They impart a mild, nutty and creamy flavor that works perfectly with the basil, and won’t taint your palate. Give this a try!
- 1 bunch sweet Italian basil
- 1/3 cup raw cashews
- 2 small cloves fresh garlic, minced
- About 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp sea salt such as fleur de sel
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Assemble the your food processor with the chopping/grinding blade. Into the container, place the cashews, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and about 1 Tbsp of your olive oil. Give it a whirl for about a 30-60 sec until it starts forming a garlicky nut paste.
Next, start plucking the basil leaves (short/thin non-woody stems and flower buds, as well as slightly oxidized-around-the-edges but not mushy leaves are ok too) and adding them to the food processor. If you have a smaller food processor like I do, you will need to add handfuls of the basil leaves and pulse in short bursts to incorporate more leaves into the paste. In between adding handfuls of leaves, gradually drizzle the remainder of your olive oil in through the food chute until you get a beautiful, fairly homogenous, aromatic green slurry (this is the part where my mouth really starts watering).
This recipe will make about a cup of pesto. Freeze any you don’t use within about a week or so. Enjoy over pasta, spread on a sandwich or crackers, or try using it in my rustic brown rice and leek tart recipe, or stay tuned for an unusual way to use your pesto, coming next!