Easy Creamy Vegan Pesto

While I was prepping for my bikini competition, I relied heavily on healthy fats to keep my hunger at bay. Fats take longer to digest, which means they help the body stay fuller for longer. Some of my favorite fat sources came from sesame oil, nuts and nut butters. One of my all time favorite recipes to come out of the last few months was this super easy cashew based pesto. I love the versatility that cashews have to offer. They have creamy, nutty flavor that lends itself well to both savory and sweet dishes.  

With a buttery, garlicky flavor, this pesto made for a perfect pasta sauce. The cashew base made it super creamy which gave it a more decadent consistency than an olive oil based pesto. This sauce is a new staple in our kitchen. It can be used as a pasta sauce or simply as a nice alternative to mayo, butter or sour cream in some of your favorite dishes! 

Nutrition Tip: Try cutting your serving of pasta in half and bulk up your meal with extra veggies and lean protein!

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1 large handful of fresh basil 
  • 1 large glove of garlic 
  • Salt and black or red pepper flakes to taste 

Nutrition tip: If following a low sodium diet substitute salt with a squeeze of lemon to give it a nice zing! 

Directions: 

  1. Place the cashews in a small pot and add just enough water to cover the cashews. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer and cook for 30 minutes.  
  2. Mince the clove of garlic. 
  3. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cashews from the water (reserve the water) and place them in a blender. Add half of the reserved water to the blender along with the basil, garlic, and pepper to taste. 
  4. Set the blender to puree and blend for 2 minutes, stopping in 30-second increments to push ingredients from the side of the blender down with a spatula. The mixture should appear smooth and creamy. If the mixture is too "mealy" add more of the reserved water until desired consistency. 

Yield: ~ 2 servings 

 I paired my creamy pesto with half of a serving of whole grain rotini, grilled zucchini, mushrooms and chicken then topped it with red pepper flakes and fresh basil. Yum!

I paired my creamy pesto with half of a serving of whole grain rotini, grilled zucchini, mushrooms and chicken then topped it with red pepper flakes and fresh basil. Yum!

Serving Size: ~1/4 cup     

  • Calories: 86 cal
  • Protein: 3 grams
  • Fat: 6 grams
  • Carbs: 5 grams
    • Fiber: .8 grams