pesto perfection

pesto with basil and cashews

I hate to admit it, but he was right. I met Marco one month ago, at a dinner hosting some of the students and faculty from Italy's University of Gastronomic Sciences. As dinner was being served, he and I stood away from the group having a lively conversation.....about pesto. Marco was very clear (and animated) when discussing his list of ingredients: basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, salt and no cheese. According to him, parmigiano is only to be added later, at the time the pasta dish is being prepared. Though I'm the first to appreciate the passion and sensuality of an expressive Italian man..... I have sometimes found Italy's culinary rules to be tediously locked in tradition, lacking in creative flexibility. It did appear that he considered my substitution suggestions such as almonds for pine nuts and arugula for basil, though perhaps he was just being a polite guest on foreign soil? Regardless, I made a basil pesto last night that was probably the best I've ever made. It contained no cheese.....and cashews in place of pine nuts. Delizioso Marco!

Cashew Pesto

1 cup cashews, lightly toasted
3 cups fresh basil, washed and dried
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients together in a food processor. Store in the fridge in a tightly sealed container.

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