Pesto is by far one of my favorite sauces. It’s great on pizza, really fancies up a veggie sandwich, and makes eating raw veggies a real treat. Most pesto is super high in fat and calories though. It is generally made with lots of olive oil, nuts, and cheese. ALL HIGH CALORIE. My version does use nuts, but I skip the oil and cheese. I promise you won’t miss either. I use nutritional yeast to get that cheesy flavor and water replaces the oil, not the flavor.
What the heck is nutritional yeast??!!
Nutritional yeast is made from Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, which is grown on molasses and then harvested, washed, and dried with heat to kill or deactivate it. It is sold in the form of flakes or yellow powder, and can be found in the bulk aisle of many health food stores. It is sometimes referred to as “Nooch.” Most brands are fortified with Vit B12. It’s a complete protein containing 9 grams per 2 tablespoons. To compare, one large egg has about 6 grams. It’s low in fat, high in fiber, gluten free, and a great source of both folic acid and iron.
Nutritional yeast is a very popular ingredient in vegan cooking, especially for cheese substitutes. Although the name nutritional yeast may not be all that appealing to some, its flavor is really quite unique and delicious. It has a cheesy, nutty, savory, and umami quality. It is a staple ingredient in vegan cheese sauce and for vegan parmesan. It’s a delicious topping for popcorn and is great on a tofu scramble. I use it quite often in many of my recipes.
Now, lets make some pesto! I hope you enjoy my healthier version of pesto and find some great dishes to use it in. Take a picture of what you make and share it with me on instagram @thefoodienurse
- 3 cups basil, loosely packed
- 3 cloves roasted garlic*
- 1 cup cashew pieces, soaked overnight, and drained*
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 TBS lemon juice
- ½ cup water
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- Place all ingredients in food processor and process until smooth
- You may have to stop several times and scrape down sides to incorporate all ingredients
To roast, wrap whole head in foil and roast at 400 degrees until cloves feel soft, about 30-35 min
You can use any nut you prefer. I have made different versions using walnuts, pecans, pistachios and almonds. Experiment to find your favorite!!
Soaking overnight is best for a creamier texture, 6-8 hours is probably enough time though
You can also boil the nuts for about 8 minutes if you forget to soak ahead of time Simply bring enough water to cover nuts to a boil, add nuts, boil and drain off water
Always buy cashew pieces, not whole cashews. The pieces are usually several dollars cheaper!