Pesto is one of those sauces I feel like I could put on anything! I love pesto pasta, pesto pizza, pesto on toast, pesto mixed with hummus, pesto tofu – you name it. Because it’s traditionally made with olive oil (a lot of olive oil) I used to only make pesto every once in awhile though. That is, until I invented a healthy version I call my “kale pesto” that I now make all the time!
Pesto Made Healthy
My version of pesto is oil free and dairy free, making it much healthier than regular pesto. Traditional pesto is made using:
- Basil leaves
- Olive oil
- Parmesan cheese
- Pine nuts
I swap out the dairy for vegan Parmesan cheese (made from cashews) and replace the olive oil with lemon juice instead. That’s not the only change I make though. I decided to get even more creative with the “healthy” theme of my pesto recipe and try to sneak some kale into the mixture as well. The result – I don’t even notice the kale is there, and it adds an even greater health boost to the final outcome!
Getting Creative With Ingredients
While experimenting in the kitchen, I also played around with different nut combinations. Though pine nuts are delicious, they can also be expensive. Walnuts happen to be my favorite nut, and they’re cheaper than pine nuts, so I almost always have a bag of them lying around. Luckily, using walnuts instead of pine nuts still gives this pesto that subtle nutty flavor and texture.
My final secret ingredient is… sun-dried tomatoes! This ingredient is totally optional, but I think it adds a really nice, unique flavor to the pesto. I very rarely shop at Whole Foods, but when I do I try to pick up a bag of sun-dried tomatoes. So far, it’s the only store I’ve been able to find sun-dried tomatoes in a bag (as opposed to in a jar with lots of oil). I really like sun-dried tomatoes as an ingredient in recipes, but try to avoid getting the kind that’s packed in oil! The ones at Whole Foods are dry in a bag, so I usually buy them there.
Kale Pesto With Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Making the pesto is super easy. Simply throw all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. I hope you enjoy this healthy kale pesto recipe that is oil and dairy free!
- ½ cup of basil leaves
- 2 cups of kale
- 5-6 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons of vegan Parmesan cheese (http://minimalistbaker.com/how-to-make-vegan-parmesan-cheese/)
- 3 tablespoons of walnuts
- 2 pieces of sun-dried tomatoes
- 3-4 tablespoons of water (optional)
- Add all of the ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until it reaches your desired consistency
- If it is still a bit chunky, you can add the optional tablespoons of water (one at a time) until it becomes more smooth