There are few simple pleasures as perfect as pesto. This vegan pesto, studded with cilantro, parsley and whole lemon, is no exception.
Pesto slathered on avocado toast. Or pesto lavished on pasta.
Scrambled into tofu…or dressing a new potato salad.
Making Vegan Pesto is Easy!
Although most of us grew up on the basil-garlic-pine nut-parmesan version, I tend to think of pesto as a formula:
greens + nut/seed + garlic (always garlic!) + creamy/umami notes
I’m particular about pesto too…of course I am. You need olive oil, but I don’t like it too oily. Or too cheesy, I don’t want to hide the greens. I like a lot of acid so it doesn’t taste flat. Ask my husband. He thinks I go a step too far on acid…but that’s a whole other story.
I wanted to create a pesto that used inexpensive greens and give it an anti-inflammatory twist. All that talk about lemon water? Well, if you want the true benefit of lemons, you need to use the whole fruit. I bumped up the omega 3 fatty acids. And used A LOT of garlic. Depending on how raw garlic treats you, you can shrink it down…but I used two BIG cloves because hey, I’m not a fan of vampires.
This sauce is so easy to make and is delicious on everything. The nutritional yeast gives it that familiar umami note that traditionally comes from parmesan.
Try adding a bit of mayo to make a sauce for grain bowls or veggies. Add it to sandwiches or anything else your heart desires. When you taste it, it will taste strong – almost too strong – but the reason for that is that the flavour will dilute once it’s on pasta. You need a whole lot of flavour to stand up to those strands.
Vegan Cilantro and Parsley Pesto with Whole Lemon
- 1 cup curly parsley, leaves and tender stems lightly packed
- 1 cup cilantro, leaves and tender stems lightly packed
- 1/4 cup walnut halves
- 1/4 large lemon skin on, seeds removed
- 2 tablespoons hemp hearts
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 2 cloves garlic peeled
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil extra virgin
- In a small food processor or large cup for blending, add the parsley, cilantro, walnuts, lemon, hemp hearts, nutritional yeast, garlic and salt. Pulse until finely chopped and uniform - or puree if using an immersion blender.
- Next, drizzle in olive oil while pulsing the mixture, to emulsify the pesto. If using an immersion blender, the mixture will have a creamier consistency when you blend.
- If adding pesto directly to pasta, toss pasta with a tiny drizzle of olive oil first to coat the strands so the pesto spreads a bit easier. Or store pesto in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to three days...if it lasts that long!