Who doesn’t love a good pesto? You can use it as a spread for sandwiches, sauce for spaghetti dishes, garnish on soups… if you don’t like greens or vegetables, this is a great way to add them in. Kale pesto, spinach pesto, broccoli pesto… there is so much one can experiment with. It’s similarity is to that of hummus minus the chickpeas and you add cheese.
I decided to make this recipe as part of my New Year’s lunch for my husband and I. If I need to make a brunch/lunch, or breakfast for that matter in a jiffy, Tempeh sandwich is my go to. Toast the bread. use a spread or two. Slice the tempeh in half and sauce. add spinach or arugula. Slice some cucumbers. Boom! Full meal there made in under 20 minutes. But today, I decided to make my own pesto and my own olive tapenade to kick off the new year a little special.
Pesto pairs very well (any sauce really) with tempeh since tempeh tends to be bland on its own. Tempeh on its own has no flavor and unlike tofu, where it absorbs the flavor in uncooked state, has to be cooked to absorb the flavor. The black parts are normal and does not indicate its old or moldy. With that said, a good sauce for the sandwich was needed. I remember that I had wanted to make kale pesto for a Wellington recipe last week for Christmas but changed my mind and chose a different Wellington style with cranberry sauce instead. In addition to which, I finally have a food processor again; it makes it so easy to makes sauces and bases for my raw cheesecakes; don’t sweat it if you don’t have a food processor. You can use a blender as well like I did before being gifted the food processor.
Why did I choose kale and cashew?
Kale gets a bad rep. To help bring out the flavor (and to enjoy it for that matter), you have to massage for it 5 minutes. Sometimes you don’t have the time to do that. In a pesto, the garlic and basil (or whatever herb you choose) masks the kale’s flavor if you don’t like it. It is one of my favorite ways to intake kale, besides juicing it or ordering it at a restaurant because I don’t feel like giving it a proper massage it needs or deserves. Lets face the facts: I would prefer to massage my body aches). 😛
Cashews are easy to love that is why (or rather one of the reasons why) I swapped walnuts for cashews in this recipe. Cashews are versatile and creamy when blended. Many recipes use pine nuts or walnuts for pesto. Traditionally pine nuts are used in pestos but they are very expensive to buy. Cashews may not exactly be budget friendly like sunflower seeds, but they are cheaper than pine nuts!! Tip: roast cashews to bring out their flavor and crunchiness. I opted out of doing this but you can roast them if you like before blending with the other ingredients.
I dedicate this recipe for those with sensitive nut allergies! If you still can’t have ANY nuts, use sunflower and or hemp seeds. This will change the taste of the pesto . Using cashews doesn’t alter the taste very much but sunflower and hemp seeds have their own unique taste that will change the pesto’s overall taste slightly.
1 bunch kale, washed, squeeze out excess water, chop into small pieces
4 medium size garlic cloves, peeled, chop if necessary so they are equal in size
1 handful of basil leaves
6 oz olive oil, plus more depending how thick you like the pesto
1 cup cashews
1 1/4 cup Violife Mozzarella shreds
Juice from half a lemon
Salt, according to taste
Add all ingredients, except the oil, to the food processor or blender. Blend. As the ingredients are blending, drizzle the olive oil in. Blend until smooth.
*If you don’t have a blender with a good metal blade, blend in batches + soak the cashews in hot water (drain the water) for 30 minutes prior.
I added extra garlic, as always, to the pesto mix. I used about 5-6 garlic cloves, maybe 1 or two more tiny ones. I consider garlic to be a superfood; superfood does not always have to break our wallet or be an ingredient that comes from a land abroad, like acai, goji, or golden berries, which are typically visualized in peoples minds when they hear the word “superfood”. Sometimes it is grown in our very own garden.
Garlic is a good natural plant based source of copper, magnesium, potassium, and selenium.
Studies have shown that the daily consumption of between 7 – 28 cloves of raw garlic may help prevent cholesterol buildup and stomach cancer. While using one or 2 cloves a day may not have the same effect, garlic in this quantity can work miracles on bland food.
5 calories/clove (raw)
Kale is a great plant based source for calcium, iodine, protein, iron, vitamin A and vitamin C. It is a calcium rich food. Excellent source for vitamin A. Good source of alpha-linolenic acid (found in omega 3s). All greens (chlorophyll rich) foods contain alpha-linolenic acid in their chlorophylllasts. Great dietary option to add for heart and artery renewal.
35 calories/1 cup serving (raw, chopped)
Protein: 4g per 100 gram (3.5 oz)
A half cup cooked and chopped provides 4,810 IU/8,900 per 100 gram/3.5 oz, vitamin A, 26.7 mg vitamin C, 148 mg potassium, 47 mg calcium/134 mg per 3.5 oz
For more info on kale, check out: https://peacelovejoyfood.wordpress.com/2021/01/01/kale/
Cashews are a great source of plant based protein as well as iron.
155 calories/1 oz serving (raw nuts)
Lemon juice, especially when added to greens, add brightness to the dish. Lemons contain magnesium and phytochemcials such as limonoids and terpenes. Limonoids contain detoxification properties and can help conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular disease prevention. Terpenes contain anticancer properties and can help cancer prevention and hormone balance.
20 calories/medium lemon (raw, with peel)
Possible benefits of basil are reducing stomach cramps and nausea, relieves gas, promotes normal bowel function, and aids digestion. (Earl Mindell’s New Herb Bible, Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D)
- Vegetarian Flavor Bible, Karen Page
- Prescription for Natural Healing, Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
- Prescription for Natural Healing, James. E. Balch, MD
- Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition
- Earl Mindell’s New Herb Bible, Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D