After a bit of feasting last week... I've been feeling like something a little bright, fresh, and green looking. So fresh vegan pesto it is!
This type of recipe is super easy, just blend and it's ready to go. It's perfect as a dip for chips or crudites, as a pasta sauce, or a sandwich spread. And if your festivities are ongoing, it's a great little dip to include in a grazing platter as well.
Don't be fooled by the long ingredients list (I know that can seem daunting sometimes). Most of the ingredients are things most people would already have in their kitchen / pantry (water, salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar, etc.).
The combination of mostly hemp seeds, along with some cashews give this a mildly cheesy flavor and a pretty filling texture, and keeps things on the whole foods side (as the recipe is oil-free).
On this note: if you're looking for something a little lighter and perhaps nut-free, then this cauliflower sauce might do the trick for you instead.
But I do enjoy the more filling quality of this dip, especially for dipping veg or for use in zoodles, etc. It also goes great with these flax crackers.
You can also of course as always improvise and improve the vegan pesto to your taste by adjusting the flavors. If you like more garlic, feel free to load it up (just caution, too much raw garlic and garlic variety might make it spicy, in which case you might want to use garlic powder instead). Other spices can be used to play things up here. More basil, less spinach, if that's your preference. Or even adding a hint of liquid smoke if you're in a smokey kind of a mood, are all good options.
I love using it in pasta a lot, cooked and raw (zoodles). Just a note: add it to the pasta fresh -- i.e. don't mix up the entire amount with a large quantity of pasta to be used at a later time. I find that then it dries up when reheated and loses a lot of its flavor. It's definitely better suited for fresh use.
My absolute favorite is mixing it into pasta alongside some caramelized balsamic fried mushrooms and onions. Oh so good!Print
Fresh Pesto Dip / Sauce
This bright fresh vegan pesto dip is quick and easy to throw together and is perfect as a dip, a sandwich spread, or as a pasta sauce.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 3 cups
- Category: Savory
- Method: Blended
- Cuisine: Vegan, Snacks, Sauce
- Diet: Vegan
- 2 cups hulled hemp seeds
- ½ cup raw cashews, pre-soaked and strained*
- ½ cup water
- ¾ cup fresh basil leaves
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves
- 4 big cloves garlic, peeled
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- cracked black pepper to taste (a few twists will do!)
1. Process all ingredients in a food processor into a uniform consistency.
2. Transfer to a glass storage jar or container and enjoy! Keep refrigerated.
*To pre-soak nuts: place in a glass bowl, cover with water, and leave to soak for 4 hours (or overnight in the fridge). Then strain and discard the water. For a quick pre-soak, cover with boiled water and soak for 15 mins, then strain and discard water. (Note: this technique doesn’t preserve the nutrition of the recipe as well as the traditional soaking technique above). Additional Note: the purpose of soaking the nuts is to re-hydrate them and plump them up for blending into a smooth, cheesecake-like consistency. Proper soaking techniques also maximize nutrition and digestibility. If you’re interested in learning more about nut soaking and other dessert prep tips and tricks, I delve into these subjects in detail in my book Unconventional Treats.
Keywords: dairy-free pesto, raw vegan pesto, vegan pesto, vegan pesto sauce, vegan pesto dip, non-dairy pesto, oil-free vegan pesto, plant-based whole foods pesto
DANA K LEHMER says
Do I have to use the yeast? How does that support the recipe please?
Hi Dana. I find the yeast adds the following: a cheesy flavor, and a but of an "umami" flavor balance, and firms up the texture just a touch. If you really prefer this without it you can skip it and just adjust the flavors to your own taste with other spices or flavorings (if at all) you enjoy more.