Fresh basil is available year-round, but it's truly a summer delight. It's particularly delicious in pesto, the nut and cheese sauce for pasta. This pesto recipe, however, caters to the vegan eater who still loves the idea of a creamy, nutty, and cheesy sauce to enjoy over pasta, but without the animal products.
Quick, easy, and perfect over cold or warm noodles, this pesto recipe can be made in a matter of minutes and it freezes well, too.
While traditional pesto calls for pine nuts, we trade them out here for hemp and pumpkin seeds. Hemp is extremely high in vegan protein and healthy essential fatty acids, as are pumpkin seeds. The pumpkin seeds also give the pesto a slightly cheesy flavor that would normally come from the addition of Parmesan cheese. Combined with nutritional yeast, this vegan pesto recipe can fool even the biggest cheese lover. It's not lacking in any flavor, consistency, or texture.
The sundried tomatoes also give the recipe a tang that works well with the seeds providing the cheesy flavor. If you're not a fan of the tomatoes, you can omit them from the recipe. You can also replace them with olives.
Pesto is typically heavy on the garlic, as most Italian dishes are. But as a card-carrying member of GAG (Girls Against Garlic), I leave it out. Those of you who enjoy garlic can add a few cloves to the mix, if you must.
Pumpkin Hemp Seed Vegan Pesto
Makes about 2 cups
- 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup shelled hemp seeds
- 1 cup fresh basil, stemmed
- ½ cup sundried tomatoes (if really dry tomatoes are used, reconstitute in water first)
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- Lots of olive oil (at least ¼ cup)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth, slowly adding olive oil while the blender is running. Sauce should be slightly coarse but not too chunky.
Mix with your favorite noodles and steamed seasonal vegetables. Top with more olive oil.