Vegan Spinach Basil Walnut Pesto

Pestos are super easy to make and their versatility makes them even better. A pesto can be made with essentially any type or herb and nut/seed. They can range from a traditional basil-pinenut to cilantro-pumpkin or even mint-pistachio. The possibilities are endless.

Today, I’m sharing a basil walnut pesto that is vegan. Traditionally parmesan is used in a pesto, however, I’m using chickpea miso and umeboshi plum paste to give the same “cheesy” umami flavor that a regular cheese would give. I recently learned about these powerful, nutritious ingredients in culinary school and ever since using them, they will most definitely remain a staple in my kitchen.

vegan pesto 2

If case you didn’t know, miso is a fermented soy product, however in this case it is fermented chickpeas. Miso is normally used as a condiment, soup starter, and a digestive aid. It is a probiotic, contains many vital nutrients, and antioxidant rich. On the other hand, umeboshi plums are native to Japanese cuisine and are typically served as side dishes or over rice. The have a salty/sour taste to them that enhances and balances out flavors in many types of dishes. The list of health benefits go on and I highly recommend doing research on each. Because you only use little portions at a time, the price of these products is worth it to me and they have a fairly long shelf life as well.

In the recipe, I state to blanch the spinach for about 10 seconds. Blanching brightens the color of the spinach which therefore makes the pesto a brighter green color. It’s also easier to manage in the food processor since the leaves will wilt up a bit. However, is it not necessary.

Serve this pesto on pasta, spread it on sandwiches, or use as a dip for various vegetables and crackers. Enjoy!

Yield: roughly 12 ounces, or 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces of baby spinach, organic if possible 
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/3 cup raw unsalted whole walnuts
  • 2 ounces of fresh basil leaves, stemmed, organic if possible 
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, (1 lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon of chickpea miso, I recommend this brand
  • 1 tablespoon umeboshi plum paste, I recommend this brand
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

 

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Prepare an ice bath and bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil.
  3. Add baby spinach and a pinch of salt. Blanch spinach for 10 seconds. Shock spinach in ice bath, drain, and squeeze out excess moisture. Set aside.
  4. Place walnuts onto a baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and roughly chop.
  5. Place blanched spinach, walnuts, basil leaves, minced garlic, lemon juice, chickpea miso, umeboshi plum plaste into the a food processor.
  6. Turn on food processor and slowly slowly add olive oil through tube feed. Puree until well combined, about 20-30 seconds.

 

Notes:

  • Keep stored in airtight container for 1 week.
  • Feel free to use pine-nuts, almonds, or pistachios if you do not have walnuts.

 

 


Brown Rice Black Bean Salad with Herb Green Sauce

This rice and bean salad has a lot of variety which makes it very flavorful, colorful, and healthy! It was inspired from a rice salad made in culinary school at the Natural Gourmet Institute. Brown rice is a staple in my pantry- it’s great to have on hand for last minutes meals because you can use it in so many ways! It pairs great with beans and many different vegetables which is why I chose it for this salad recipe. All together, this salad provides a lot of textures, flavors, and a vast array of nutrients. Prep this salad for a week’s worth of lunches or have it as a side dish for dinner.

Yield: 6 cups of salad, 3/4 cup of sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice, uncooked and rinsed clean
  • 1 3/4 cup BOILING water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, divided*
  • 1/2 cup dry black beans, soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed OR 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, (1-2 limes)
  • 1 tablespoon dijion mustard
  • 5 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup whole unsalted walnuts
  • 2 ribs celery, cut to approx. 1/4″ dice
  • 1 large carrot, cut to approx. 1/4″ dice
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut to approx. 1/4″ dice
  • 3-4 tablespoons feta cheese

 

Procedure:

  1. In medium pot, add rice, BOILING water, and 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt. Bring back to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat to a simmer.
  2. Cook rice, covered, for 30-35 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow rice to steam for another 15 minutes- still covered. Uncover and fluff with a fork. Let cool and add to a large bowl.
  3. *If using dry beans, drain soaked beans and rinse with water. Add to a medium pot, cover beans with 2-3 inches of water, and add 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt. Let beans gently simmer for about 30 minutes or until tender. Drain, rinse, and add to the bowl with rice. *If using canned beans, drain, rinse, and add to same bowl.
  4. Preheat oven to 350F.
  5. Start prepping your sauce ingredients. Add rice vinegar, lime juice, dijon mustard, olive oil, parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt to a blender. Blend for 30 seconds. Set aside.
  6. Place walnuts onto a baking sheet and toast in oven for 5-7 or until fragrant. Remove from oven and roughly chop.
  7. Add chopped walnuts, diced celery, carrot, red bell pepper, and feta cheese to rice and beans.
  8. Pour half of the dressing over the mixture and stir until all ingredients are lightly coated. (Don’t dump all at once!) However, feel free to add more if you like a heavier sauce.

 

brown rice black bean salad

Notes:

  • Leftovers can keep in the fridge for 1 week.
  • This salad can be enjoyed cold or slightly warm.

Deviled Eggs garnished with paprika and chives

Growing up, deviled eggs were (and still are) one of my favorite foods. They are a classic to have at holiday parties and really any other type of family or friends event. My grandma was always the one in charge of making them and every time they were brought over to a holiday party, I would be the one standing right next to the platter devouring them all. They’re that good!

This recipe uses a homemade mayonnaise that is super simple to make and I think- tastes better than store-bought. A lot of store-bought mayonnaises have extra “junk” in them so they can last months on end. This homemade mayonnaise requires just 5 ingredients and can last in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. However, for this recipe, store-bought mayonnaise is fine to use.

Yield: 12 deviled eggs

 

Mayonnaise ingredients: 

  • 1 whole egg, pasture raised/and or organic, if possible 
  • 3/4 cup light tasting oil, I used this organic expeller pressed canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard seed
  • pinch sea salt

Deviled egg ingredients: 

  • 6 eggs, pasture raised/and or organic, if possible 
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon dijion mustard
  • salt and pepper, to taste

 

 

Mayonnaise procedure:

  1. Place egg, lemon, and ground mustard into a food processor.
  2. Slowly add in canola oil from the top of food processor. Do not dump it all in at once. This process should take about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Remove from food processor and place into a airtight container.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes so it will set.

 

*If you don’t have a food processor, no worries! Add egg, lemon, and ground mustard to a small sized bowl and whisk all together. While whisking, slowly add the oil until it’s combined.

*For the oil, use something that has a neutral taste. I wouldn’t recommend extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil. You want to oil to be refined so that you can’t taste any flavor.

Deviled egg procedure:

  1. Place 6 eggs in the bottom of a large pot. Add cold water to cover the eggs.
  2. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Once 5 minutes is up, turn off the heat, and let pot sit to the side for another 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the eggs and run under cold water until eggs feel cool.
  5. Peel the shells off the eggs and cut in half.
  6. Carefully remove the yolk and place into a small bowl.
  7. Stir in mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper.
  8. Add a spoonful of filling back into each egg white.

 

To serve:

  • 1-2 chives, thinly sliced
  • paprika
  1. Sprinkle chives and dust paprika all over the filled eggs.
  2. Serve and enjoy!

 

deviled eggs 3


Toast: Roasted Tomatoes and Feta Cheese

I love enjoying a warm piece of toast, especially in the morning with my eggs. There’s something about the warm crunchiness of the first bite that keeps me going for more! Anything goes well with toast whether it’s eggs, avocado, or just plain old butter- it’s just delicious!

Here I have tomatoes that were roasted in avocado oil, Italian seasoning, and a little bit of salt and pepper that give this toast so much flavor. I also added some feta cheese that gets slightly melted from the warmth of the tomatoes. SO GOOD!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil (or olive)
  • Italian seasoning
  • salt + pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 tablepsoons of feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of butter (preferably ghee or grass fed)
  • 2 slices of your favorite bread (mine is sourdough!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Rinse tomatoes and pat dry.
  3. Line a baking sheet with foil and place tomatoes on top.
  4. Spray or coat tomatoes in oil and sprinkle Italian seasoning all over. Then add salt and pepper.
  5. Cook in oven for about 10-15 minutes or until tomatoes look “blistered”.
  6. In the meantime, toast bread and spread with butter.
  7. Once the tomatoes are finished cooking, place them onto the toast, sprinkle feta cheese on top, and EAT!
  8. Hope you enjoy 🙂

toasts 2


Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Is anyone else obsessed with hummus like I am?! I could live off this stuff, especially when it’s homemade. Classic, beet, roasted garlic, you name it and I’ll eat it. This time around, I’m sharing this delicious roasted red pepper hummus. It pairs perfectly with pita bread, crackers, chopped veggies OR as a spread to sandwiches, wraps, anything you can think of. Oh, and I did I mention it’s super easy to make too!

Ingredients:

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 can of chickpeas (15-ounce), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tablespoons filtered water
  • Optional: paprika for garnish

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to broil. Wash and dry red bell pepper.
  2. Cut pepper in half and remove seeds + core. Cut into large flat pieces and place skin side up onto a baking sheet.
  3. Coat pieces with olive oil and broil for 5-10 minutes or until skin has charred. (Make sure your oven rack is placed second from the top so that it can char the skin.)
  4. Once finished, let the pepper pieces sit until until cool to touch. About 10 minutes.
  5. Remove charred skin and discard.
  6. Chop up pepper and set aside.
  7. Add garlic cloves, lemon juice, and tahini to a food processor. Process until smooth.
  8. Next, add pepper, chickpeas, cumin, salt, and pepper. Process for 30 seconds.
  9. Press mixture down into the blades with a spoon and add 1 tablespoon of filtered water.
  10. Process for another 30 seconds and repeat step 9.
  11. Process until entire mixture is smooth and to your desired consistency. You can always add more water if you’d like, but I like mine a little on the thicker side.
  12. Spoon mixture out into a bowl and serve!
  13. Save for up to 1 week but I’m sure it’ll be gone before then 😉

 

roasted red pepper hummus 2