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Traditional pesto takes on new life with this recipe. Cashews provide a creamy, buttery contrast to the tangy lemon juice. When fresh basil is abundant, this pesto is a must-make! Ingredients (serves 3-4)
Course entree, pasta, sauces


  • 3 - 3 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • ¾ tsp dry mustard
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1-3 tbsp water add as needed
  • 1 cup + 1-2 tbsp raw cashews see note
  • 2½ - 2 3/4 cups packed fresh basil leaves (and tender stems, not stalks)
  • 3/4 lb dry pasta of choice (ex: gluten-free, whole-grain) see note


  1. In a food processor, combine lemon juice, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, and 1 tbsp of water, and purée until fairly smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. If difficult to puree, add a touch more water (keep in mind that some pasta water will be added when tossing through pasta). 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 serve.

Recipe Notes

Cooking Notes:

  • 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. Or try raw noodles like zucchini noodles.
  • Raw almonds may be substituted in part or entirely for cashews, just add extra water or oil to moisten when puréeing.
  • You can make this pesto in advance and refrigerate in a sealed container until you’re ready to cook the pasta.
  • When kept thick, this pesto also makes a dynamite sandwich spread or pizza sauce (or dollop on pesto as a pizza topping).
  • I like a lot of sauce on my pastas, but you may prefer less; use up to 1 lb (450 g) pasta and add extra cooking water or oil to help distribute the pesto through the pasta.