Cashew Tarragon Pesto

I’m going to tell you something, but you have to promise not to tell my friend Steve.  He’s deathly allergic to nuts, you see, and becomes horribly offended when I feature them here.  So don’t tell, okay?  Okay.

Cashews.  I’m slightly obsessed with them.  Shhh.

I never ate cashews growing up, because I thought I was allergic to them; a handful of mixed nuts left me oddly itchy and puffed up like a balloon one Thanksgiving – needless to say, I spent the following years as far away as I could from any and all nut products.  However, the guilty nut turned out to be none other than the evil Brazil nut, so while I continue to shun those oddly-shaped nuggets of anaphylaxis, cashews have gained a seat at the table.  In a big way.

I throw cashews into salads, soups, even bowls of cereal.  And I find few greater pleasures than eating roasted, salted handfuls straight from the freezer, which is where I store them (for freshness purposes).

I use cashews to make pesto.  With some tarragon, parsley, lemon and garlic.  I spread it on toast, eat it with pasta, smear it on roasted chicken.  I suggest you do, too!  Unless you are my friend Steve, in which case, do not eat this.  But do.  But don’t.  You know.  Sorry, Steve.

Cashew Tarragon Pesto


  • 1 large bunch fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • juice from 3 lemons
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


Toast cashews in a dry pan over medium heat until lightly brown and fragrant.  Allow to cool slightly.

Purée the first six ingredients in a food processor (from parsley through garlic).  Add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and a bit of salt and pepper, and blend until a coarse paste forms.  Add a few tablespoons of warm water to thin the sauce to desired consistency, and adjust seasoning to taste.

Use as a sandwich spread, atop a bowl of hot pasta, or alongside roasted chicken.

Makes about 3 cups pesto.

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8 Responses to Cashew Tarragon Pesto

  1. JBursk says:


    • jane bursky says:

      LOVE STEVE (obviously) and LOVE cashews…..
      will make this when he’s not coming to greenwich!

  2. I’ve had a bunch of tarragon in my fridge for awhile now, wondering what else I could do with it. I’ve put it in egg salad, chicken salad, rice salad, pastas, marinades; and never once did I think pesto. Thank you! And I love the idea of using cashews as well.

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  5. M Olson says:

    Made this today. I might have gone over board on the tarragon – just threw the small package in. Who has time to chop and measure? Lemon and vinegar give it a nice bright flavor but my taste buds are asking for more depth – dried cranberries, figs, dates? It was great on seed bread.

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