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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Oil-Free Vegan Pesto

About a month ago, I found a gluten-free section at my favorite discount grocery store, ALDI. I purchased a gluten-free pizza crust mix in the hopes of making a delicious pizza that night. Well, to say the least, that did not happen. Here I am, a month later, desperately craving pizza, but conflicted on how to make this pizza healthy. My first thought was simply to eliminate the cheese, but then again I did not want to sacrifice that rich, creamy flavor. That is when it hit me! Ricotta could be used for the creaminess and pesto for the rich, bold flavors. Finding a healthier option to ricotta is easy because most groceries stores have low-fat and fat-free versions. Finding a healthier option to pesto...uhh...not so much.

This dilemma inspired me to create my own oil-free vegan pesto. It is simple, easy, and most importantly healthy. Typical pesto has about 80 calories per tablespoon. My healthier option has about 30 calories! With one recipe yielding 1 cup, make sure to double up because this will go quickly.


Tomato, Ricotta, Pesto Pizza topped with Grilled Onions
RECIPE
2 c spinach, well-packed
3/4 c raw walnut, halved
1/2 c basil leaves, well-packed
3 tbsp water
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt  
pepper

NOTE: Constantly TASTE the pesto, to make sure it is to your liking. When adding the salt, add a little less than the measured amount and work your way up to it. That way it does not become too salty for you.

INSTRUCTIONS
Blend all ingredients well in a blender or food processor.   Enjoy!

TIPS

  • Great as a spread, pizza sauce, pasta sauce, etc.
  •  If you have enough, feel free to replace the amount of spinach with basil leaves.
  • Add nutritional yeast to add a cheesy touch (without the dairy).
  • Feel free to experiment with other full-flavored nuts.