Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cashew Chipotle Pesto

There is a farmers market near our apartment on Tuesdays that has what must be the best deal on basil in the city. A fragrant almost two foot abundant sheaf with the roots still attached costs $3.00. I can't resist buying at least one bunch a week. When I get it home it usually finds its way into a couple of caprese salads and some other dishes but eventually I become stumped about what to do with it all so I start playing with pestos.

I love experimenting with different nuts and oils. Once I have all my nuts and oils lined up I mix and match them to make four or five different versions at once. It takes only about a half hour total. Pesto freezes well so I start stockpiling homemade pesto now. When the winter sets in, we all know how expensive one measly thin plastic container can be. It's also great to have these on hand now for summer barbecues. Pasta with homemade pistachio, almond, pecan or pumpkin seed pesto becomes my go to side dish to bring or serve. All I have to do is select one to take out of the freezer the night before, boil up some pasta the morning of, mix it up and done.

For this version I raided my spices and thought, oh yes, a spicy pesto was the way to go. Raw sweet, mild cashews were added to mitigate the chipotle burn and the result was a dance of sweet, salty and spicy that is the perfect accompaniment to pasta, crackers, bread or with white wine vinegar, a great basis for a salad dressing.

Cashew Chipotle Pesto


  • 1 large fresh garlic clove
  • 2 cups fresh Basil tightly packed
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • pinch of kosher salt


  • Roughly chop the garlic clove and add it to the food processor.
  • Place the basil, nuts and olive oil in the processor and grind everything together.
  • Add the parmesan, chipotle powder and salt and process well.
  • You may want to add more oil and chipotle to taste depending on how dense and spicy you want the pesto to be.
  • Place in a sealed container and refrigerate or freeze.


  1. This sounds delicious ..... can't wait to try it!

  2. Oh yummy. I really really love pesto. I used to grow basil, but we ended up with so much of it that we couldn't use it quickly enough (even after filling the freezer with pesto). $3 is an excellent price for basil. It's so expensive where I shop I'm considering growing it again!

  3. Cashews are a good substitute for pine nuts which can be so expensive and I love the addition of the heat. My basil is finally starting to grow. They seemed to get a late start.

  4. Great idea to add nuts to your pesto. What a lovely flavour and texture it must add to your pasta!

  5. I love the idea of a pesto with cashew nuts. I will love to try it.

  6. I loved making pesto in the summer and freezing it.... in America. My freezer in Hamburg is about the size of 2 loafs of bread. Maybe I'll have to re-prioritize.
    What never occurred to me was going outside the classic pesto box. Which I adore.. but it can get a little tiring. We do have loads of basil from neighbors on Orcas though and I'll be sure to try this- I could see it on some salmon too.

    Try some pesto on wasa crackers with a little avocado and balsamic vinegar. One of my fav's.


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