Vegan Raw Pumpkin Seed & Spinach “Cheesy” Pesto a.k.a. Creamiest Pesto Ever #GuiltyAsCHEESEd!
Oh how I wish I could put the texture of this pesto into words, but you just have to try it to understand! It’s by far the creamiest, silkiest & smoothest pesto I’ve ever made! (& that’s saying a lot because Lord knows I’ve made a pesto or two, or three, or five before & they’ve been pretty dang creamy if I do say so myself!).
It’s flavourful for days & delicious on toasts, rice cakes, crackers, as a topping for bowls or as a dip for tortilla chips, veggies, chicken, steak, grilled shrimp or salmon! Basically, you’ll love it so much you’ll put it on anything & everything!
Pesto is one of those things that’s a staple for me! It’s just something that’s great to have on hand in the fridge & WHAT’S EVEN MORE GREAT IS THAT THIS VEGAN VERSION DOES NOT, I REPEAT, DOES NOT, FALL SHORT OF THE REAL DEAL (It contains no cheese… but you’d never know!).
BTW: Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, copper, protein & zinc. They’re nutritional powerhouses! Full of healthy fats, phytosterols (plant antioxidants), support immunity, heart & liver health, contain anti-inflammatory benefits, promote restful sleep & have anti-diabetic effects.
I also loaded this pesto up with nutritional yeast, for starters… because I wanted it to taste like cheese #guiltyasCHEESEd (oops, I mean #guiltyascharged!). BUT ALSO, because nutritional yeast is a great plant-based source of B12, a vitamin that I don’t get enough of through my nutrition because I don’t eat red meat or much salmon! I take a B complex supplement, as well as a separate B12 spray supplement daily in order to make sure I keep my energy levels in check & to complement the low levels of B12 I get through my diet.
Nutritional yeast is also a “complete protein”, it contains other B vitamins, is very low in sodium, sugar & gluten-free & contains a good amount of iron! It’s a great way to spruce up recipes, to give them a nutty, cheesy & delicious flavour, all while reaping some health benefits, because hey… THE MORE THE MERRIER!
SPEAKING OF PESTO… BTW, did you guys know that olive oil is AMAZING for the skin? (There’s a reason it’s one of the six ingredients in Egyptian Magic!). It’s actually been used since the ancient times due to its anti-aging antioxidants & its hydrating squalene content, making it superb for hair, skin & nails. Squalene is actually a substance that, like collagen, our body produces on its own, but with time, production declines. incorporating olive oil into marinades, pestos, dips, spreads & dressings is a great way to do that! Olive oil is also rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, which means it possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which are beneficial for gut, skin & nervous system health.
I don’t cook with olive oil because it has a very low smoke point & once it’s heated beyond it, it actually loses a lot of its beneficial properties & is sadly basically, not food anymore. Heating an oil beyond its smoke point actually generates toxic fumes & free radicals, which are obviously extremely harmful to the body.
Now that you know about the benefits of some of the main events in this pesto, let’s get to the recipe!
- 2 cups fresh spinach (or replace with kale, arugula or a blend of any of the three!)
- 1/2 cup raw organic pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup organic extra-virgin olive oil
- A splash or 2 raw organic apple cider vinegar
- 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- A few pinches cayenne pepper
- Sea salt + black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- Add all the ingredients to your blender jug & blend until combined, smooth & silky.
- You will have to open the jug & scrape the sides once or twice to get it all blended. You can also add a bit of water, olive oil or apple cider to facilitate blending, if needed.
- Store in an airtight container & refrigerate! (I personally like to store my pestos in glass containers because I find they stay better that way!).