Did you know that ‘pesto’ originates from the Italian word ‘peste,’ meaning ‘ to pound.’ Just the very thought of it conjures up images of nonnas in the Italian countryside pounding fresh herbs, pine nuts and parmesan with a wooden pestle in a marbled mortar!
The beauty of pesto is that it’s a forgiving recipe, open to adaptation using different herbs beyond basil, a variety of nuts and add-ins. And if you don’t have a mortar-and-pestle on hand, a food processor, high speed blender or trusty Nutribullet, work just as well for blitzing the ingredients into a vivacious sauce to drape your next pasta with, or to be had simply as a dip for dunking crusty bread or focaccia in.
I use cashews – rather than pine nuts – for a creamier texture; and throw in a handful of fresh parsley (with the stalks) to give it a more vibrant green finish with a fragrant hit. I also add just a little bit of oregano for a mild peppery punch. Everyone has their go-to recipe for a good pesto. This is mine.
The Perfect Pesto
- ½ cup cashews
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- ½ cup fresh parsley
- ½ cup grated parmesan
- ½ cup olive oil + more as required
- 3 small garlic cloves
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ½ tsp sea salt
- a few grinds of black pepper
- Toast the cashews in a dry skillet on medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove and allow them to cool before adding to the food processor/ blender. Add the garlic and parmesan, blitzing everything together.
- Next add the basil and parsley and blitz again, before streaming in the olive oil until the pesto comes together in a paste with your desired consistency. You can add a bit more olive oil if you prefer a looser texture.
- Add the lime juice, salt and pepper at the end to season. Store refrigerated in a sealed jar.
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