I know it’s a bold statement but my first homemade pesto - and not just homemade pesto but healthy, nutritious, dairy-free pesto - turned out to be the best pesto I’ve ever tried. Since experiencing this variation of pesto i have come to realise that normal shop-bought pesto is far too oily and bitty. Another thing i dislike about it is the inclusion of cheese which i try to avoid as i don’t eat much dairy. If i’m going to eat cheese it’s going to be a huge slice of locally sourced cheese covered in chutney. That would be worth it. But in pesto i think it is pretty unnecessary, especially when the option of nutritional yeast is available, which adds a nutty, cheesy taste similar to parmesan, but also boasts an abundance of nutrients and high levels of vegan protein, to entirely upgrade your pesto (and most other savoury recipes).
On top of that, many supermarket brands of Pesto use sugar and preservatives which are unnatural and can be detrimental to health. You also must be careful when choosing pesto to make sure it is made with natural oils such as extra virgin olive oil and not with artificial, hydrogenated fats such as vegetable oil. You’re safest and healthiest bet is to buy organic or local, homemade pesto, or make it yourself (its as easy as a smoothie)!
This pesto is a lot creamier than most brands of pesto due to the sunflower seeds and avocado i use. Sunflower seeds are an amazing base for sauces and creams and add a unique texture to this condiment. I also substituted pine nuts for pistachio nuts as i love their intense flavour and thought it would work well with the sunflower seeds. As well as basil I used a large handful of spinach leaves to increase the nutritional value of the recipe and also to thicken it a little. This pesto is incredibly healthy and is high in healthy fats (from the avocado, nuts and seeds), protein (from the nuts, seeds and nutritional yeast) and antioxidants (from the spinach, garlic, avocado, lemon, basil and spirulina). It also contains alkalising properties due to the use of lemon, leafy greens and spirulina and contains a diverse range of vitamins, minerals and fibre from all of the natural ingredients.
Enjoy as a spread, as a dip for vegetables or sweet potato chips, as a side or condiment for most meals including fish, meat or eggs, and incorporate into savoury sauces or soups for extra flavour. And throw out the Sacla.
1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds
1/2 Cup Pistachio Nuts
Large Handful Fresh Basil Leaves
Large Handful Kale or Spinach, diced
1/2 a Ripe Avocado
1/2 Cup Avocado Oil or Olive Oil
1-2 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
1-2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
1 Teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice
Pinch of Spirulina (optional)
Add the sunflower seeds, pistachios and a tablespoon of the oil to a blender and blend for 5 minutes. When the mixture begins to become smooth, add the avocado (best to chop it first), basil leaves, spinach or kale, garlic, nutritional yeast, salt, lemon juice and the rest of the oil (as well as the spirulina, if using). Blend again for a further 2-3 minutes until the mixture is smooth and all ingredients are combined. You may need to scrape the sides. I quite liked mine with a few chunks in it but if you prefer a smoother spread, continue to blend until you are happy with the consistency. Scrape from the blender into a bowl and season with more salt or lemon or spirulina or nutritional least until you are happy with it.
Cover with cling film and store in the fridge. It may become slightly dark on the outside due to the avocado oxidising but just stir before serving and it will be absolutely fine