Simple is always best. I love all the fancy specialty ingredients. But basics always steal the show for me.
Highlighting the flavors. Simple simple. As long as you have good clean real food from healthy soil, you’re set.
Pesto is one of the most ubiquitous spreads out there and is so quick and easy to make. It also freezes very well! So if you ever find yourself with too many greens that are going to go bad or a bumper basil crop, whip it up and stock for later.
While pesto is traditionally made with olive oil and parmesan cheese, this recipe is both vegan and oil free. Garlic optional. I know…. my Italian grandma Erma may be frowning down on me for that last one especially… We originally used oil and garlic in the early days of Superfresh!, but with SO MANY allergies and dietary restrictions and requests for garlic and oil free, we wanted to have plenty of options for all walks.
This is a great spread to have on hand for sauces, pizzas, dips, quesadillas, sandwiches, etc. And it lasts a LONG time in the fridge! Add a dollop to vegan mayo or cashew cheeze for a pesto creme sauce.
Please feel free to use any greens for your pesto! Except more delicate salad greens like romaine, iceberg, or mesclun / spring mix. Arugula, spinach, kale, chard, dandelion, ramps, plantain, are all wonderful! I’ll dedicate a whole separate post to wild spring green pesto highlighting wild edibles when they pop up in a month or so.
Tip: use young arugula (really the only thing you’ll find on the market - only need to be aware if you’re growing your own). Once upon a time in college I had a big little garden at my apartment and the first year I grew arugula I let it get SO BIG. Like… REALLY BIG. And let me just say that with arugula, bigger does not mean better. On the contrary, bigger means BITTER AF. So so spicy. And I’m a fan of bitters. I tried to make pesto with it and tone it down with other greens… but it was so horrible. I couldn’t fix it. So sad. Just use young arugula. Trust me.
Oil Free Vegan Pesto
Yields 2 cups
1 1/2 cups raw cashew pieces (pieces are cheaper than whole)*
10 cups loose spinach
1 bunch basil (if you don’t have basil, you can just use other greens, this is just more traditional)
2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt (I use fine ground pink Himalayan)
1 clove garlic (optional)**
*You can sub other nuts like pine nuts (traditional, but very expensive), walnuts, etc. I stick to softer nuts that easily break down without needing to soak. Cashews also have a bit of a cheesy creamy consistency that I really like without an intense flavor. Walnuts are delicious, but taste very much like walnut.
**Let’s be real, it’s way better with garlic, but if you don’t have it on hand or have someone with an allergy, it is perfectly fine without.
Add cashews to food processor and blend until broken down
Add salt, lemon juice, garlic, and half of the greens and process
Continue to add remaining greens slowly as it begins to incorporate. Turn off food processor, remove lid, and use a spoon or rubber spatula to scrape down once in a while. Keep processing until well combined. Safety tip: DO NOT try to push down pesto while the processor is running. I know it sounds like common sense, but i’ve seen a rubber spatula get eaten up by the blade and completely bust out the plastic base. Patience grasshopper.
Store in a sealed container in the fridge for weeks. This also freezes very well!