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Pistachio Lemon Cake with Strawberry + Basil Salsa

Makes 1 (9½-inch round) cake

2 sticks/8 ounces butter, room temperature plus more for greasing the pan
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup ground pistachios (see note)
Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
Strawberry + Basil Salsa (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line the bottom of a 9½-inch round pan with parchment paper. Grease the bottom and sides with butter.

Cream the butter in a mixer until it’s light in color and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Rub the lemon zest into the sugar to release its oils. Add this to the butter and mix another minute.

Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time, beating for 2 minutes each. Mix in the vanilla.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and add this to the bowl all at once. Mix gently, being careful to not overmix. Add the ground pistachios.

Pour the batter into your pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a rack, then turn it out to serve. Dust with powdered sugar before serving if you’d like—the cake doesn’t really need it because it’s sweet enough, but the powdered sugar makes it extra pretty. Serve with Strawberry + Basil Salsa on the side.

Note: To make ground pistachios, simply put shelled, unsalted pistachios in your blender or food processor and pulse until finely ground.

Strawberry + Basil Salsa

Serves 4

1 pound strawberries, hulled (see note)
⅓ cup sugar (or more, depending on sweetness of your berries)
4 large basil leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Slice and chop the strawberries into a ¼-inch dice and toss into a medium bowl with the sugar.

Finely chop the basil and add this to the bowl along with the lemon juice. Taste and adjust as needed. Let rest for a half-hour before serving.

Note: Don’t throw those strawberry tops in the trash! Put them in a pitcher of water and store in the fridge—and you’ve got strawberry water.

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Ellise Pierce is the Cowgirl Chef and author of COWGIRL CHEF:
Texas Cooking with a French Accent (Running Press). Read her blog
(www.cowgirlchef.com), follow her on Twitter (@cowgirlchef) and Instagram

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