Try this amazing cashew pesto recipe that has layers of flavor and uses fresh ingredients. Pesto with cashews is absolutely delicious and perfect for salads, chicken, or salmon to add an abundance of vibrant flavors, and it's super easy to make in less than 5-minutes!
🌟 Why this recipe works
This delicious pesto recipe without pine nuts is unlike the traditional basil pesto because it uses cashew nuts to give the pesto sauce a wonderful creaminess and a touch of lime juice to balance the layers of flavors.
Pesto recipes are so delicious and easy to make that any home cook can make them in a matter of minutes. The secret to making delicious, vibrant green pesto sauce is in the quantity of the fresh basil to the olive oil and also the parmesan cheese.
It's important to balance the flavors of each ingredient for the best-tasting cashew pesto. Using too much fresh basil will make it earthy, and too much parmesan cheese will make it too salty when combined with the added salt from the cashew nuts.
However, this basil & cashew pesto is perfectly balanced to add a lovely nutty, earthiness with a slight garlic taste to caprese salads and pasta recipes or spread on baked chicken or oven baked pesto salmon.
All you need is a food processor to combine the ingredients into a paste. It takes minutes to prepare and stays fresh for a good week refrigerated, meaning you can use the cashew pesto to enhance a variety of delicious recipes throughout the week.
🍽 Key Ingredients
The best cashew pesto & basil is made with fresh ingredients and a food processor to blitz them into a paste.
Nuts - Cashew nuts finely chopped. Cashews offer a slightly sweet flavor with a creamy texture.
Oil - Use good quality olive oil (either standard or extra virgin olive oil).
Cheese - Freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Basil - Fresh basil leaves give pesto its vibrant green color and sweet smell.
Garlic - Use fresh garlic rather than powder. You only need a small amount to balance the flavor of the basil leaves.
Lime - Fresh lime juice is an important ingredient to cut through the bitterness of the olive oil and adds acidity to pesto.
A perfect one-to-one substitute for lime juice is lemon juice.
🔪 How to make
Cashew pesto is such an easy sauce to make in a few minutes by pulsating the ingredients in a food processor. You can make this foolproof recipe with my easy-to-follow instructions below.
- Peel and chop the garlic into pieces.
- Remove the stalks from the fresh basil leaves.
In a food processor, combine the basil leaves, cashew nuts, parmesan cheese, and garlic.
Optional: at this point you can process them until finely ground, around 20 seconds or keep adding the rest of the ingredients.
Add a squeeze of lime juice.
Add himalayan salt to taste.
Turn on the food processor and gradually add olive oil until thoroughly incorporated.
Once combined, turn off the food processor. Mix in a bit more olive oil to achieve a looser texture, if required using a spatula.
💭 Cooking tips
It's best to chop the basil, cashews, and garlic before adding them to the food processor to achieve a smoother consistency. Throwing them in whole may result in some big pieces.
📖 Pesto Recipe Variations
Pesto in Italy comes in many varieties and different flavors using tomatoes, herbs, and nuts.
Pesto with walnuts
Substitute the cashews for walnuts and add 1 cup of fresh parsley. Combine with the other ingredients as instructed except for the lime juice.
Pesto with pine nuts
Also known as pesto alla genovese (AKA the traditional pesto). Using pine nuts instead of cashews will give your pesto a nuttier flavor with a crunchier texture, combined with the herbaceous basil and salty parmesan cheese.
Pesto with almonds
This variation uses blanched almonds in place of the cashews. You can even add a handful of cherry or dried tomatoes for a summery flavor perfect almond pesto for your pasta dish.
🥗 What to serve with
Cashew pesto is a delicious creamier pesto variation to the original pesto with pine nuts and pairs well with fish, meats, pasta, or salads.
Meat & fish
Use your fresh cashew pesto to spread on salmon fillets or chicken breast and bake in the oven for a seriously tasty low-carb lunch or dinner. Or make this flavorful sheet pan shrimp recipe made with a variety of veggies baked in the oven with pesto marinated shrimp.
One of my favorite easy lunch meals to make with this delicious pesto is mixing it with some cooked pasta and topping it with some freshly grated parmesan cheese. It's so good and ready in 10 minutes.
Chicken caprese salad
This chicken caprese salad recipe is perfect for a light summer lunch or dinner.
Bake a chicken breast in the oven coated with homemade pesto and a slice of mozzarella on top surrounded by 2 cups of cherry tomatoes. Place the chicken on a bed of salad leaves with the baked cherry tomatoes.
A similar delicious recipe is my baked pesto chicken that pairs well with this pesto with cashews.
🙋 Frequently Asked Questions
What other nut can you use in pesto?
You can make pesto with a variety of nuts, including pine nuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, and even brazil nuts. Each nut will give the pesto a slightly different texture and flavor.
What keeps pesto from turning brown?
Lemon juice. To prevent the pesto from turning brown, you need to add acidity with a squeeze of lime or lemon juice and store the pesto in an airtight container.
Cashew pesto is great for storing in the fridge or freezer
Fridge - Transfer the pesto to an airtight container or place the contents in a bowl and cover the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil and wrap the bowl in plastic wrap. The cashew pesto will last up to a week refrigerated.
Freezer - The best way to freeze leftover pesto is to pour it into an ice cube tray so you can defrost it in individual portions to the amount you need. It will freeze for up to 6 months.
🍳 Related Sauce Recipes
If you like this pesto with cashews recipe. Check out my collection of tasty sauces including my homemade bbq sauce. Yum!
👪 Serving Size
This cashew pesto recipe will provide you with enough pesto to use for 4 or 5 meals, depending on how much you use. Or you can scale the recipe to make more and freeze it in ice cube trays.
It's pretty easy making cashew pesto for any home cook, and it's such a delicious sauce to use in lots of recipes for spring and summer.
Fresh Basil Pesto with Cashews
- ½ cup raw cashews
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- 2 medium garlic cloves
- 2 cups fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon lime juice - fresh
- ¼ teaspoon himalayan salt
- ½ cup olive oil
- In a food processor, combine the basil leaves, cashew nuts, parmesan cheese, and garlic. Process until finely ground, around 20 seconds.
- Add a squeeze of lime juice and salt to taste.
- Turn on the food processor and gradually add olive oil until thoroughly incorporated.
- Once combined, turn off the food processor.Mix in a bit more olive oil to achieve a looser texture, if required using a spatula.
- Serve fresh and enjoy!
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