Penne with Creamy Cashew Pesto

Sometimes you just want to do something different. Special. Over the top. I can’t think of a better time to do that than on Mother’s Day! I mean, really. The woman wiped your butt. I’d say she deserves a bouquet and a whole lot more! A wonderful friend of mine at Judy’s Wellness Café recently introduced me to cashew milk. (plug plug, great site) We started talking about different things you could do with it, and that’s when it hit me: cashew pesto. My wheels started turning and the next thing you know, I was whipping up something I’d never tried before: a fresh and vibrant pesto made with cashew cream rather than pine nuts. I knew immediately that this would make for a really nice Mother’s Day lunch!

Cashew milk on it’s own is pretty easy to make. It doesn’t require all the extra straining that almond milk does. It DOES, however, require a minimum of 4 hours prep time for soaking, so bear that in mind if you decide to make this. Easiest thing to do is soak the cashews overnight, that way they’re all ready for the next day. It’s worth the wait, because cashew milk has a pretty impressive repertoire. As a general rule, you use a 3-to-1 water-to-cashew ratio. From there, make it into a smoothie with fruit, add more water and use as a creamer in your coffee or tea, or use less water and make a cream for sauces and the like. And that’s where my idea was born…


Penne with Creamy Cashew Pesto

First, prepare your cashews. You will need raw cashews that have not been roasted or salted. Soak them in water, enough to cover them, for at least 4 hours. The cashews will swell a little and get softer. Drain and rinse, and get ready to make some yum.

For this recipe, I soaked and drained 1 cup of cashews and then blended them with 1 cup of water. You will have leftover cream that you can save for something else!

  • 2 cups basil, torn
  • ½ cup cashew cream
  • ½ cup Parmesan, shredded
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons white wine
  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • whole wheat penne pasta
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • extra basil for garnish

Go ahead and season your chicken breasts and get them on the grill. Flip as you go along, cooking them thoroughly. Try to get some pretty grill marks on them, too. Go ahead and show off for Mom.

While your chicken is cooking, bring a pot of water to boil. Don’t forget to salt the water so your pasta isn’t bland. Meanwhile, once your cashew cream is ready, combine it in a blender or food processor with the basil, Parmesan, garlic, olive oil, white wine, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth, tweaking as needed.

As if you needed another reason:

Cashews have been shown to reduce blood pressure
and raise “good” cholesterol levels.

Cook the penne al dente. It’s really the only acceptable way, plus it’s fun to say.

Check on your pesto. It may have thickened up a little. If so, add a touch more olive oil and blend. Once your pasta is ready, drain it and toss it with the pesto sauce. Serve with sliced chicken, garnish with Parm and basil, and voilà! Lunch is served!

Food so good you could slap yo’ mama. But you better not! It’s Mother’s Day, after all!

For more cashew and cashew milk info and tips, CLICK HERE!

2 thoughts on “Penne with Creamy Cashew Pesto

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