What is it about basil and the taste of fresh pesto that is so redolent of summer? One whiff of its fresh green scent and warm sunny days feel just a step behind.
About this time of year, Trader Joe’s brings greenhouse grown basil plants into the store and sells them for $2.99. Their marketing geniuses know that a whiff of summer and that price will almost guarantee a sale.
Most pesto recipes call for pine nuts- with prices pushing $15/lb, this is a budget breaker. Cashews have a similar flavor and are half the price making for a tasty, reasonable substitution.
Basil Cashew Pesto
1 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup cashew pieces
2/3 cup grated or shaved fresh Parmesan cheese
3 cloves minced garlic
½ tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. kosher salt
Place basil leaves in food processor and lightly pulse chop. Add grated or shaved Parmesan, cashews, garlic cloves, lemon juice, salt and pepper and blend well. Drizzle oil in slowly until pesto reaches desired consistency.
(Note: All of the olive oil may not be necessary depending on oil content of the nuts)
Store in airtight container in refrigerator or freeze for up to 6 months.
Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups pesto
(Tip: Freeze pesto in ice cube trays for easy removal and use. One cube is approximately 1 Tbsp. pesto.)