Winter Pesto with Parsley, Walnuts, and Hemp

Nature teaches us that for everything, there is a season. Basil is around for a few short, glorious months of the year, needing the kiss of summer heat to burst into its prime, and we take full advantage while it lasts. By the time Septmeber rolls around, I am okay with putting my basil recipes away for another year. I am not, however, prepared to stop consuming inordinate amounts of pesto anytime soon. And it is for this reason that I present to you the pesto that I eat all fall, winter, and spring long! 

Enter parsley! This hardy herb continues growing long after basil, and it’s time to give it a little love. It is an excellent source of vitamin K1 (essential for proper blood clotting and wound healing) and vitamin C. It also contains a number of volatile oils, such as myristicin, which has been shown in animal studies to inhibit tumour formation. You can find more information about parsley’s health benefits on World’s Healthiest Foods, one of my favourite resources! 

In this recipe, I combine that superb herb with toasted walnuts, hemp hearts, lemon juice and zest, nutritional yeast, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil! The walnuts and hemp provide a powerful boost of healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, protein, and minerals like magnesium and iron, while the nutritional yeast imbues the pesto with a cheesy flavour and a healthy dose of energy-promoting B vitamins. Its complex flavours shine on everything from pasta to sandwiches/wraps and crackers! It’s even a delicious dip for roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes. 

Hope your transition into late fall/early winter has been smooth, pals. I know I’ve been feeling a little extra tired with the shorter days and the first snow, but I’m trying to embrace the natural rhythms as best as I can. Trying to remember that fall and winter are for rest and introspection. I am also in the process of making a decision about school, so maybe I’ll be able to post about that in the coming weeks, too. One thing I know with certainty is that I’ll be back again soon with a recipe idea that puts this pesto to good use. Until then, be well! 

-Allie xx

Winter Pesto with Parsley, Walnuts, and Hemp

Yield: 2 cups/500 mL; enough for 8 (1/4 cup/60 mL) servings
Time: 15 minutes
Cuisine: Vegan, Mediterranean 

Ingredients:

-3 packed cups fresh parsley
-1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted if desired
-1/4 cup hemp hearts
-2 large cloves garlic, minced 
-1/3 cup + 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
-1/4 cup nutritional yeast
-1/2 tsp fine sea salt, plus more to taste
-Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
-1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
-2-3 tbsp water to thin, if necessary 

Instructions: 

  1. Place the parsley, walnuts, hemp, garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, sea salt, and pepper into a food processor. Process until everything is finely chopped and beginning to form a paste. 
  2. Slowly pour the olive oil into the food processor through the upper tube. Continue processing until smooth and creamy. If the pesto seems too thick, add water, 1 tbsp at a time, until desired consistency is reached (remember that it will thicken considerably once refrigerated).
  3. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. 
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