Vegan Kale & Pumpkinseed Pesto

Vegan Kale & Pumpkinseed Pesto

Pesto is one of those power-packed foods that makes me feel damn good. I like to keep a jar of some version of pesto in the fridge pretty much all the time. It’s a quick healthy snack with some raw vegetables for dipping, a spoonful on sliced tomatoes, a dollop on a piece of pan seared salmon or steak, over steamed veggies or roasted winter squash, stir into spiralized vegetable “noodles” or add a dollop to a bowl of soup… I even love sliced apples dipped in pesto!

Kale and pumpkinseed is my favorite autumn pesto combination. Pumpkinseeds are rich a variety of antioxidants and also have a good mineral profile. And kale, well.. enough said.

Instead of cheese I use nutritional yeast in this recipe. It may not sound appetizing, but nutritional yeast has a delicious flavor, and is a surprising vegetarian source of B vitamins, protein, fiber and folic acid. A little nutty, a little tangy, a little sweet even.. It’s addictively good on freshly popped popcorn, can be added to sauces and gravies, even sprinkled over a bowl of hot brown rice with some toasted sesame seeds and scallions.. so good.

Try using all basil with pine nuts for a classic, traditional flavor. Also good are: arugula-basil, arugula-spinach, kale-spinach, basil-dandelion, basil-cilantro, etc.

Makes approximately 1 cup

1/2 cup tightly packed fresh basil

1 1/2 cups tightly packed chopped curly kale

1/3 cup raw organic green pumpkin seeds (sometimes labeled “pepitas”)

1 to 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (to taste)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (more as needed)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons nutritional yeast

salt & fresh ground malabar black pepper to taste

Some olive oils are quite peppery on their own, so you may not need to add black pepper.

You can use a food processor, a household blender or an immersion blender with its matching measuring cup/blending vessel. Blend all ingredients together just until you have a puree. Don’t go overboard trying to make it silky smooth, pesto should be rustic in texture, I like it with little bits of pumpkinseeds still visible in the mix.

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