Traditional pesto takes on new life with this recipe. Cashews provide a buttery, creamy contrast to the tangy lemon juice and intense fresh basil. When basil is abundant, make double or triple batches, since this pesto freezes wonderfully.
3–3½ tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large clove garlic
¾ tsp dry mustard
¾ tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (optional, for oil-free version add 1-2 tbsp extra water)
1 cup + 1–2 tbsp raw cashews (see note)
2½–2¾ cups (packed) fresh basil leaves and tender stems
½–¾ lb (225–340 g) dry pasta of choice (see note)
olive oil (for finishing, optional)
In a food processor, combine lemon juice, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, oil, and water, and purée until fairly smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add cashews and basil and purée until fairly smooth (may leave some texture). Cook pasta according to package directions. When almost done, remove about 1/2 cup of pasta water and reserve. Drain pasta (do not rinse) and toss with pesto, using as much pesto as desired (see note). If pasta seems too dry, add some pasta water, 1 tbsp at a time, until moistened to preference. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired, and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
1) Use brown rice, quinoa, or other gluten-free pasta for a gf dish; use spelt, kamut, or other wheat-free pasta for a wheat-free dish.
2) Raw almonds may be substituted in part or entirely for cashews, just add extra water or oil to moisten when puréeing.
3) You can make this pesto in advance and refrigerate in a sealed container until you’re ready to cook the pasta.
4) This pesto also makes a dynamite sandwich spread or pizza sauce (or dollop on pesto as a pizza topping).
5) I like a lot of sauce on my pastas, but you may prefer less; use up to1 lb (450 g) pasta and add extra cooking water or oil to help distribute the pesto through the pasta.