Think you’ve tasted the best pesto ever? Well, think again my foodie friends because I’m about to go food-blogger crazy and tell you why this recipe right here is your new and forever go-to red pesto recipe. That’s right, after this no other pesto will do because Roasted Red Pepper + Cashew + Feta = Pesto Life!
Alright, so what do you foodies do with pesto? Do you stir it through pasta? Dip crackers into it? Spread it over thick crusty ciabatta and stuff it into your face like there’s no tomorrow? Do you ever just go at the jar of pesto with a spoon and shovel all that basil and garlic deliciousness into your mouth without a second thought?
I admit, I’m guilty of the last one. But I do all the others, too. Surely that is the greatness of pesto – it’s so versatile.
Exhibit “A”: A cheese and ham sandwich – one of the most boring lunch time options you can eat. Sure, you can have the fanciest, most matured cheddar cheese the world has to offer, and the triple chicory-smoked, wafer sliced ham, and even the fluffiest, thickest slices of sourdough bread, but it is always going to be a plain, simple ham and cheese sandwich, am I right?
Bam! With a few flicks of knife across the surface of you bread you’ve revolutionised this boring lunchtime snack. Your cheese and ham sandwich has undergone a transformation and it is now the king of simple sandwiches: the matured cheddar, the triple-chicory-smoked ham, the sourdough bread now intermingle with the flavours basil, garlic and parmesan.
Lunch time just became awesome.
Exhibit “B”: When it comes to pasta sauces, the plain old Neapolitan is just so last year – wait, no, so last century. C’mon people, if drowning your tagliatelle in cooked tomatoes spiked with a bit of garlic is the best you can do, you should hang your head in shame. IN SHAME I tell you.
Why? Because life is too short for Neapolitan pasta sauce. That’s what you have on the kiddie’s menu in a restaurant. It’s plain and simple and, dare I say it, BORING!
No, we are adults here. We have – or at least pretend we have – developed and advanced palettes, ready to soak up the menagerie of flavours and textures the world is going to throw at us. Why have a simple, plain and boring sauce when we can liven it up kick-ass foodie style?
Bam! Basil, parmesan and garlic smooshed together with chunky pine nuts and swirled with cream will make any bow of pasta legendary!
And then we come to this recipe. This recipe that will take the classic Italian pesto and, with a few simple tweaks and changes, take its yumminess and deliciousness and give-me-more-ness through the roof!
This, my foodie friends, is Pesto 2.0.
BRING. IT. ON!
So this is how things are going to go down:
Just like any pesto recipe, the name of the game is quick and simple. There is nothing much to this recipe other than throwing all the ingredients into your food processor and blitzing until a slightly-smooth-slightly-chunky consistency is formed, so bare ingridients to pestos 2.0 should take you not much more than five minutes (bonus points to those who can do it in under four!)
The first few ingredients are the usual suspects or the pesto making progress: Olive oil (the dark, extra virgin variety being the best choice here) and Basil (needs to be fresh, not dried) are placed into the food processor along with garlic. Now, how much garlic you add is going to be up to you…
I for one am a garlic fanatic and I can never have enough in my pesto. This recipe calls for 5 cloves of the stuff but I will always add a few extra for a real garlicky kick. But, then again, if garlic isn’t your thang, then I suggest taking it down to two or three cloves (but please – please! – don’t take it down to one clove: that’s just embarrassing.)
Pine nuts are cool, I guess. They have their place in the kitchen but, sadly, they had no place in Red Pesto 2.0. I needed something a little fancier, something with a little more flavour and punch.
Yep, swap out those mild flavoured pine nuts – they can fight another day – and replace it with delicious cashews. They can be roasted or unroasted, but it is best to use unsalted so you have more control over the final flavour and result.
With these fancier nuts I decide to tone down the flavour of the cheese, so swapped the strong and biting force of parmesan with the softer, cooling effect of feta but, if you are the sort of person who cannot bear a pesto without parmesan, then feel free to forego the feta. I have made this pesto with both cheeses and can say it worked great with either.
Anyway, after all this we are going to throw in beautifully roasted red peppers (you can roast your own or use the ones from a jar) because who wants green pesto when you can have red pesto!
Then, blitz everything together and in a few quick minutes you have a delicious, next generation pesto ready to stir through your pasta, dip your crackers into, spread over your boring ham and cheese sandwich, or simple eat straight from the jar with a large spoon. The choice is yours!
And be sure to look out for a great recipe coming this week where this awesome red pesto is put to work!
Until next time foodies, #pestolife!
Red Pesto with Cashews and Feta
- Prep Time: 10 Minutes
- Total Time: 10 Minutes
- Yield: 1 1/2 cups
- 250g Roasted red peppers
- 1 Large bunch of fresh basil (about 20g, excluding stalks)
- 80g Cashew Nuts
- 60g Feta or Parmesan
- 5 garlic cloves, crushed
- ¼ to ½ cup of olive oil.
- Place all the ingredients into a food processor or blender (start with ¼ cup of olive oil to begin with). Blitz until a chunky paste is formed. Add a little more oil if too chunky, or a few more cashews if too smooth.
- Can be kept in the refrigerator, in an airtight contain, for a week. Freezes well for several months.