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.