Lemon Balm and Cashew Pesto

While I do love traditional pesto made with basil, I am also a fan of using different fresh herbs and greens to create variations of this versatile condiment.

I have made tasty pestos with cilantro, mint, and parsley. I also recently tried this recipe for Kale Pesto…and loved it!

As for the nuts, it’s fun (and cheaper) to employ something other than pine nuts. Sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachios all work well…the possible herb/green and nut/seed combinations are only limited by your imagination. You can also play with the oil and try something other than olive oil.

Note that while a food processor makes super easy work of pesto, you can also make a fabulous pesto by hand (and if the amount of oil is a concern to you, it’s easier to use less when you chop everything by hand). I was first inspired to forgo the food processor after seeing this recipe on 101 Cookbooks, and now I do it all the time.

Here is a pesto recipe featuring one of my favorite herbs: lemon balm.

My lemon balm has been incredibly prolific this year- it does not seeming to care if it’s super dry or super rainy. At some point soon, though, the ground will freeze and my lemon balm will be no more (it will come back next year, though, as it’s a perennial), so turning it into pesto is a great way to preserve some of its lovely flavor for the cooler months ahead.

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More deliciously unusual pesto recipes:

Spinach Basil Pesto from Bell’Alimento
Mint Walnut Pesto from Pinch my Salt
Cilantro Almond Pesto from Simply Recipes

I am submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging: Astrid is this week’s host.

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Recipe for Lemon Balm and Cashew Pesto


  • *2 cups fresh lemon balm leaves packed
  • *1 cup fresh parsley leaves packed
  • *3 medium garlic cloves peeled
  • *1/4 cup raw cashews
  • *1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • *1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • *juice of 1 fat lemon seeded
  • *fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • 1. Combine herbs, garlic, and cashews in food processor and pulse a few times.
  • 2. With the food processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil. Turn it off and scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula.
  • 3. Add the lemon juice and grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Taste and salt and freshly ground black pepper, if you like.
  • 4. Pack into glass jar(s) and top with a little olive oil for storing in the refrigerator (where it should last a few weeks). Or, use appropriate containers and store for a longer-term in the freezer (if doing this, I'd omit the cheese from the recipe and add it after you've defrosted the pesto).
  • 5. Pesto is great on pasta, of course, but it is also lovely mixed with steamed or sauteed veggies, spread on cooked fish or chicken, mixed with beans, in sandwiches, on potatoes … it’s pretty much good anywhere.

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22 thoughts on “Lemon Balm and Cashew Pesto”

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  5. I really promised myself to make pesto – it was my September project. Didn’t even start yet but I love what you have done and it is inspiring me! I’ll let you know what I end up making. This looks absolutely cooling and delicious!

  6. I think that the pine nut price broke me out of my shell (ha…I did not do that on purpose) and I’ve so enjoyed using different nuts and greens for pesto. I had not considered lemon balm though…and I have it in my garden! Thanks Winnie.

  7. I also love pesto in any form. Cilantro pesto is one of my favorites. I’ve never tried making pesto with cashews OR lemon balm but am totally inspired.

  8. I’ve seen some really interesting pestos lately. This is definitely one of them – although I’ll be honest, I’ve never tried lemon balm…

    Sounds like it’d be great tossed with some veggies.

  9. Thank you for this recipe. Found you on punk domestics. i’ve got lemon balm coming out of my arse and this sounds like a tasty way to use it.

  10. This pesto really sounds interesting, Winnie. You’ve gotten me thinking about all kinds of combinations now. My herb garden is still overflowing and I need to start using some of those wonderful herbs before our first cold weather! Pestos would be a great way to preserve them.

  11. I love making homemade pesto and keep some in the freezer for a quick dinner solution. I love the idea of lemon balm in a pesto. Very clever.

  12. Love pestos! Yours look so good! Kale and other greens have been in surplus in my house since the farmers market began. I actually had to make myself not buy any this week. Now, I’m wishing I did! I will be bookmarking this recipe and wonder why I never thought to use cashews. Great idea :)

  13. Thanks for inspiring me to try new pesto combinations! I find it useful to freeze pesto in half-cup portions, covering the top with a film of oil. I can just envision my freezer drawer full of savory new combinations. What a marvelous way to hold onto the flavors of summer.

  14. A critter ate my lemon balm so I guess I will finish up the basil, which is starting to droop in the cooler weather. I need to make more pesto and play with my ingredients. Thanks for the inspiration, Winnie!

  15. Lovely looking pesto n i am sure the flavors are as lovely. Never used lemon balm although i have tried mint,coriander greens and spinach with other aromatic herbs…a green pesto can liven up anything :)