Asian Pesto

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If you have lemons, make lemonade. If you have basil, make pesto! This version has Asian influences and, like the Italian original, can add an enormous amount of flavor and character to a dish with just a couple of tablespoons. Try it stirred into plain steamed rice or noodles, as a sandwich condiment (it is amazing on Vietnamese bahn mi), or slathered on grilled chicken toward the end of cooking. [Ed. note: this recipe is related to two other recipes from Chris Santos: Wasabi Pea-Crusted Salmon and Soba Noodle and Beet Salad.]

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (not extra-virgin)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed under a knife and peeled
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted unsalted cashews
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup packed Thai basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup packed Italian basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup packed mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek or Chinese chili paste
  • Fine sea salt

Directions

1. Combine the vegetable and olive oil in a liquid measuring cup; set aside. With the machine running, drop the garlic through the feed tube of a food processor to mince the garlic. Stop the machine and add the cashews, lime juice, ginger, fish sauce, Thai and Italian basil, mint, sambal oelek, and 1∕4 teaspoon salt. Pulse a few times to finely chop the ingredients.

2. With the machine running, pour the combined oils through the feed tube to make a paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (The pesto can be refrigerated in a covered container, with a very thin layer of vegetable oil poured on top to seal the surface, for up to 2 weeks, or frozen for up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature and stir well before using.)

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Excerpted from the book Share by Chris Santos. Copyright © 2017 by Chris Santos. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.

Cook time: 
Yield: 
Makes about 1 1/4 cups
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