This easy basil cashew pesto is creamy from cashews, takes less than 10 minutes to make and can be made ahead and frozen. Enjoy as a sauce for pasta, salad dressing, or use in pesto lasagne or in pinwheels.
Homemade pesto is such an easy and delicious way of using herbs as well as adding flavour to dishes. Pesto is so flexible too – from nut free pesto, to vegan and nut free pesto (which is popular with baby led weaning). You don’t have to just make it with basil either! Try Thai basil pesto (another vegan pesto), and dill pesto (delicious with salmon!).
This cashew basil pesto uses cashew nuts instead of pine kernels, to make a cheaper alternative to traditional pesto, but one that still tastes rich, heady with fresh basil, and so delicious!
Why we love this cashew pesto
- 5 Ingredients
- Quick and easy recipe
- A great recipe for using up basil
- Cheaper than traditional pesto (cashew nuts are substituted for traditional pine nuts).
Ingredients Notes and Substitutions
- Basil – the star of the show is sweet basil. You can also use the larger leaved Italian Genovese basil. Look for leaves that are bright green.
- Cashew nuts – use unsalted and unroasted. Cashews are a delicious and more budget friendly alternative to pine kernels in pesto.
- Cheese – parmesan is the traditional cheese used in pesto, and for good reason – it adds a great saltiness and richness to the pesto. For an alternative, I sometimes use a sharp mature cheddar instead. It tastes slightly more cheesy, but is still delicious.
Frequently Asked Questions
Stored in an airtight container, or covered with clingfilm, this pesto will last up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
Yes you can! Pesto was traditionally made without a food processor. You need to use a sharp knife, as you want it to cut the basil rather than bruise it.
Pesto goes so well with many things, from cooked vegetables, chicken, salmon, steak, and pork, to ricotta, potatoes and pasta.
My recipe tips
- The optional step of toasting the cashew nuts in a pan releases their flavour, a worth while step, but if you are super pushed for time (and don’t want to dirty a pan) then you can make this pesto without. I recommend you try though!
- If you don’t have enough basil, or want a milder pesto – add a small handful of fresh baby spinach.
- Garlic – if you don’t like the strong taste of raw garlic, pop a peeled clove into boiling water and cook for 1-2 minutes. Cool then place in the blender with the other pesto ingredients. Or use a small pinch of dried garlic. (I find my toddler son would be more inclined to eat the pesto without the raw garlic).
Ways to use this basil and cashew pesto:
- Pizza – spread on homemade pizza dough or flatbread, top with mozzarella and bake for the most delicious, simple pizza!
- Pasta – stir through cooked pasta.
- Use it in pesto lasagne.
- Stir through gnocchi.
- Make a dip – either stir in a little ricotta for a creamy pesto dip, or stir a spoonful of pesto through hummus.
- Use instead of butter in a sandwich, or spread on toast (I love to add some cooked mushrooms on top – it makes the best simple lunch!).
- Dollop on top of scrambled eggs.
More easy Italian recipes for you
Basil Cashew Pesto
- 35g (1c packed) fresh basil (approx 1 large bunch)
- 50g (⅓ c) unsalted cashew nuts
- 25g (⅓c) parmesan cheese finely grated
- 1 garlic clove peeled
- 40ml (⅙c) olive oil
- Optional step: fry the cashew nuts in a dry non stick frying pan over a medium heat for 5 minutes, shaking the pan regularly, until golden. Tip out onto a plate and leave to cool.
- Place the basil, cashews, parmesan cheese, garlic clove and olive oil in a mini food processor or blender, and blend.
- Scrape down the sides and blend again.
- Serve immediately or cover with clingfilm or a layer of olive oil and store in the fridge (if left out in the open the air will make it turn brown).