Raw Vegan Green Goddess Pesto + Pesto Power Bowls

This raw vegan Green Goddess Pesto is bursting with good-for-you ingredients and fresh summer flavours! Avocado, cashews, basil, nutritional yeast, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil combine into one delicious spread that you won’t soon forget. While it is phenomenal on pasta, I offer a less traditional application for it: as a component of a Mediterranean-inspired power bowl! 

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Basil and summer are synonymous with one another. While I am not a fan of summer heat in the least, I am thankful for the luscious crops that it produces: basil, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, berries, corn, cucumber, eggplant. These are a few of my favourite things, and I spend months of the year dreaming about these fleeting weeks when seasonal produce bursts forth in abundance. I know that in just a few months, I will be shivering/wondering why I didn’t enjoy summer more/Googling cheap flights to Miami. That’s the way I roll.

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This pesto recipe came to fruition when we somehow found ourselves carrying three huge bunches of basil, courtesy of the lovely folks at Roots Down Organic Farm, home from the market one Sunday morning earlier in July. I was positively ecstatic! I have been known to go a little bit overboard at farmers’ markets, but then again, it’s so rare to have SO MUCH BASIL so close at hand. I knew that I would be able to put it to good use.

I didn’t understand the buzz around pesto until I started to make vegan versions. I always found the dairy-containing versions too rich while simultaneously lacking in flavour. In my version, raw cashews, avocado, and a small amount of extra virgin olive oil replace the richness that copious amounts of olive oil, pine nuts, and cheese typically provide. Lemon juice adds tang, while nutritional yeast and sea salt impart a cheesy flavour.

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While I now make pesto year-round with a variety of herbs and greens, summer is my favourite season for it because the flavour of basil is simply irresistible. In other seasons, I would make this pesto with fresh parsley. I can also imagine that a southwestern twist with cilantro and pumpkin seeds would be stunning!

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The first two times that we made this recipe, we enjoyed it on buckwheat crepes and tossed with pasta. While both applications were divine, I was craving something fresh and healthy this time around. I dreamed up a quick and easy Mediterranean-inspired power bowl packed with greens, raw vegetables, lemon and olive oil-marinated white beans, and quinoa as a canvas for the pesto, and it turned out great! Pesto is phenomenally versatile, so play around with it. This recipe creates enough for several servings, so depending on the number of people you are serving it to, you will have enough to experiment with a few different meals!

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If you make this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment below, and tag your creations on Instagram with @holisticallie and #holisticallie!

Green Goddess Pesto

Servings: 1+3/4 cups, enough for 4+ servings
Cuisine: Vegan, Plant-based
Time: 15 minutes or less

Ingredients: 

  • 3 cups fresh basil, preferably local and organic
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 3/4-1 tsp fine sea salt or pink Himalayan salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 avocado, pitted and flesh scooped out
  • 1/4 cup filtered water

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients, except water, into the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Turn on food processor. Once ingredients are finely chopped/blended, add water through the tube on the top of the food processor with motor running.
  3. Process until very smooth and creamy.
  4. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Green Goddess Pesto Power Bowls 

Servings: 4
Cuisine: Vegan, Plant-based
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Green Goddess Pesto (recipe above)
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup sliced radishes
  • 1 cup sliced cucumber
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives
  • 4 cups arugula or mixed greens
  • 1.5 cups cooked white beans or chickpeas
  • 1/4+1/8 tsp fine sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

Instructions:

  1. To cook the quinoa, add 2 cups (500 mL) filtered water into a medium saucepan. Rinse and drain the quinoa, add it to the pot along with a pinch of salt, and turn up heat to high. Once boiling, turn down heat to low, cover, and cook quinoa for 15-20 minutes, or until liquid has been absorbed.
  2. Meanwhile, while quinoa is cooking, prepare the marinated white beans. Combine beans, oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a medium bowl. Add basil, toss, and set aside until ready to serve.
  3. To assemble bowls, divide vegetables, greens, olives, beans, quinoa, and pesto between four bowls.
  4. Pass fresh bread and a cruet of extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar at the table. A bottle of chilled white wine makes a fine addition to this meal. 😉
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