Cashewnut and Basil Pesto Pasta

Pesto is one of the easiest things to make, especially if you have a food processor. I love how it comes together so quickly and it’s perfect for quick meals.

Pesto is an Italian word meaning to grind which explains the origin of the pestle for mortar and pestle. Traditionally pesto is made in one. One of the items in my 2020 kitchen wishlist is a granite mortar and pestle.

For this recipe, I used cashewnuts even though pine nuts are more authentic to pesto. Pine nuts are hard to come by in Nairobi and on top of that they are pretty expensive. Cashewnuts are a more affordable substitute.

Whenever I’m making pesto I love pairing it with fresh homemade pasta simply because they work perfectly together. Also it feels great to enjoy a meal made completely from scratch.

Pesto also incorporates hard cheeses like parmesan or pecorino. My recipe doesn’t but you can add some if you have.

For the ingredients, I used.

Ensure you work with extra virgin olive oil. Pesto is never cooked so a good oil that paramount. Avocado oil is also a good substitute heck I’ve even seen some few recipes use sunflower and canola oil.

In a food processor, add the basil, cashewnuts and garlic. Ensure the cashewnuts are toasted and you’ve cut up the garlic.

Pulse the food processor until ground up. It will be a coarse mixture.

Then gradually add the olive oil as you pulse the food processor. You want everything to be combined. Season with salt and pepper and voila pesto.

Set aside the pesto and prepare the pasta. I worked with fresh pasta but store bought pantry pasta works as well.

In a large sufuria bring water to a boil then salt it like the ocean.

Add the fresh pasta. Fresh pasta cooks very fast.

Stir to keep from sticking together. The pasta will cook within 3 minutes or until it floats to the top. If using store bought pasta follow the package instructions.

Once cooked, drain the pasta. Remember to reserve about a cup of the pasta water.

In a large bowl or the sufuria that cooked the pasta. Add the drained pasta and the some of the pesto earlier prepared

The warmth of the pasta will help the pesto mix with it. Add a little of the reserved pasta water to thin it out a little bit.

There you have it.

Cashewnut and basil pesto pasta.

So simple yet utterly delicious. The bite of the fresh pasta is out of this world. Honestly if you have like 30 minutes to spare I highly suggest you make your own pasta. It requires just eggs and flour.

You can substitute the cashews with macadamia nuts or even peanuts. I’ve used macadamia before but I preferred the cashews. For the herbs you can even use sage, parsley or even baby spinach.

Go ahead and make some pesto pasta guaranteed to wow your loved ones.

Kids and adults alike love this meal.

Pesto can also be used with chicken, as a spread for sandwiches.

Pesto is also perfect as a pizza sauce. I used the leftover with some leftover garlic butter naan. Topped off with sliced German sausage then I warmed it up in the oven. Bellisimo.


Cashewnut and Basil Pasta Pesto

See Detailed Nutrition Info on
  • Fresh pasta / Store bought pasta
  • for the pesto

  • 3 garlic cloves chopped
  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves, loosely packed, washed and patted dry
  • 1 cup cashewnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


In a food processor, add the garlic, basil leaves and cashewnuts.

Pulse until combined to form a coarse mixture.

Gradually stream in the olive oil as you pulse.

Scrap the sides with a spoon, season with salt and pepper.

Pulse once more. Remove and set aside.

Prepare the store bought pasta as per the package instructions.

If using fresh pasta, cook for 3 minutes or until the pasta floats to the top.

Reserve a cup of the pasta water.

Drain the pasta.

In a large bowl, add the pasta and half of the prepared pesto.

Toss to coat.

Add a little of the reserved pasta water to slightly thin it out.

Serve and enjoy.


1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *