According to Google, “Pesto” means a sauce of crushed basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil, typically served with pasta. However, I actually can’t remember the last time I made pesto with pine nuts because they are so expensive! At least in Canada. Years ago I started experimenting with other nuts and ingredients and they worked beautifully so sadly I skip the pine nuts but if you have some, you can definitely use them. I even started experimenting with herbs like cilantro and made my Vegan Cilantro Pesto. I highly suggest checking out that recipe. It works so well as a dipping sauce, marinade or of course with pasta noodles. Just ignore the quality of those pictures and blog posts as it’s from 2017 and one of my first recipes on my blog!
Pesto is so nutritious as is and this recipe adds a lot of nutritional punch with the addition of the spinach. Plus it’s perfect for those on a low carb diet, keto diet, or even Whole 30!
So for this recipe, I tried using a food processor and my Vitamix. Both do a great job but it depends on what you prefer in terms of texture of your pesto and likely the size of your food processor. Mine is quite large so if I wanted to get the pesto more smooth, I would have had to make a lot more. The food processor creates a thicker pesto that is more chunky. As seen below.
The Vitamix creates a creamier pesto as shown below. Both are delicious so feel free to use whichever appliance you have! But for this recipe, I’ll focus on using a blender!
I like to puree the herbs and nuts before adding any liquid like a good quality olive oil. I find this creates the best texture and allows you to see how much liquid you actually need to get a smooth pesto!
Zoodles aka zucchini noodles are one of my favourite ways to enjoy pesto especially in the summer. They’re low carb, super filling thanks to the volume of food you’re eating.
I have a spiralizer similiar to this one by Paderno with 3 blades. I got mine from Amazon and find it’s super handy with the suction cups on the bottom so it doesn’t move around. I usually do sweet potato or zucchini and it has lasted great over the last few years.
For this pesto, I used a mix of mojito mint and basil. I know it sounds weird but surprisingly mint adds a delicious fresh flavour as long as it is used in the same proportion as listed in this recipe even if you double, triple etc. I only came to realize this amazing combination when my mint plant was growing like crazy last year and I needed ways to use it. Adding mint bulked up the pesto and it’s a digestive so why not! P.s. Make sure you use mojito mint and not spearmint, chocolate mint etc. You’d be surprised at how many varieties of mint there are!
I can’t wait for you guys to try this recipe! Once you do it once, it’s pretty easy to adjust to your liking and it freezes so well! I plan on making some every few weeks and freezing so I have delicious pesto all year round. Just freeze it in an airtight container or plastic baggies.
Don’t forget to tag me! @balancingandie on all socials. I love seeing your guys pictures.
Simple Vegan Pesto in 5 Minutes!
- 2 cups herbs (I used 1.5 cups basil, 0.5 cup mojito mint)
- 1 cup spinach (packed)
- 1-2 garlic cloves (optional)
- 1 cup raw cashews (soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes and drained)
- 3 tbsp hemp seeds (or more cashews)
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 5 tbsp cold water
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt to taste
- 1/4 tsp black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Blend all ingredients except olive oil in a high speed blender (or food processor for chunkier pesto). You may need to stop and scrape the sides from time to time. Continue blending until everything is mostly the same size and finely ground and mixed.
- Next add olive oil and blend again until smooth. If your pesto is not as smooth as you like, continue adding 1 tbsp of oil at a time until it is the consistency you want.
- Taste and adjust seasonings! Pesto can be store in airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or freeze in baggies.