Basil-Cashew Pesto. Picture: Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post, food styling by Lisa Cherkasky.
This is a pretty garlic-forward recipe, so you can decrease the number of cloves if you're especially sensitive to the raw stuff.

Basil-Cashew Pesto

15 minutes

Makes 2 cups

Cashews give this pesto a rich creaminess. The recipe can be doubled easily.

This is good for pasta, of course, and also as a last-minute stir-in for sauteed vegetables.

The pesto can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 8 months.


  • 6 medium cloves garlic
  • Generous pinch coarse kosher salt
  • About 140g basil leaves (4 cups)
  • About 140g (1 cup) raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
  • 1 generous tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more as needed
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed
  • Water (optional)
  1. Combine the garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle, mash to form a coarse paste. Alternately, process the garlic and salt in a food processor until the garlic is finely chopped.
  2. Rinse the basil leaves well, transferring them to a food processor without drying them; the extra moisture is needed for the mix. Add the cashews, sesame seeds, lemon juice, Parm and the garlic paste. Puree to achieve the desired consistency.
  3. With the motor running, gradually add the oil to form an emulsified pesto. Taste, and add water (for consistency) or more salt, as needed. Transfer to a container; if you are not using the pesto right away, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on its surface before sealing and storing.