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Presto Pesto!

I'd consider myself a moderate pesto fan. I love it on a veggie pizza, or mixed into a good salad, and I'll occasionally order it with a pasta dish. My husband? Well, it's definitely not his first sauce choice. Enough so, that I often apologize when I decide to try a new pesto recipe. A couple weeks back, I made an awesome basic pesto sauce even he enjoyed (enough to eat two meals worth.) In anticipation of a pasta salad I plan to bring to a party tomorrow, I replicated it. As I frequently do with recipes, I adapted mine from NYT Cooking. I've tried a handful of recipes over the years, but this one is a winner at my family table!

There are two qualities in a homemade pesto that turn me off: 1) bitterness or sharpness either from the basil leaves themselves or raw garlic; and 2) the bright green color quickly browning. Pine nuts are exorbitantly pricey here in Saigon, but luckily Vietnam is prime real estate for cashews. {Fun fact: Vietnam has been the largest exporter of cashews in the world for over a decade!} I find that the cashews lend a creaminess that help balance the pungent bite. To amplify the taste as well to preserve the basil's vibrant color, I also added lemon juice.

This stuff is so good, I spooned it over some crostini today for a late afternoon snack!

Pesto Sauce


2 cups Fresh Basil Leaves, destemmed

¼ cup Raw Cashews

2 Garlic Cloves, minced

1 tablespoon Lemon Juice

½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil ⅓ cup Parmesan Cheese, grated


  • Combine basil leaves, cashews and garlic in a food processor of your choice until finely minced (I've used both my standard Cuisinart food processor and the handy and less-parts-to-clean Magic Bullet.)

  • Add lemon juice and olive oil. Process until the mixture is smooth.

  • Add the cheese and pulse to incorporate.

  • Store in the refrigerator up to 5 days, or freeze up to 3 months for future use. Enjoy with your favorite dishes - tossed with pasta, a base sauce for pizza, topping chicken, or substituted for dressing in a salad!

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