This vegan cashew kale pesto is the perfect healthy topping for your veggies, buddha bowls, pasta and so much more! Super easy to make in the blender or food processor, this will dress up any meal.
Pesto might just be one of my most favourite condiments, I think. (Also a fan of mayo, but feel like that’s not so classy?! haha). And the great thing about making it is that generally speaking, it’s a pretty forgiving kinda recipe – greens can be swapped for other greens, nuts for other nuts, bits from the fridge can be used up.
Now that it’s winter here in Sydney big bunches of kale are becoming abundant in the shops and I often get some in my weekly grocery haul. Most of it ends up sautéed with extra virgin olive oil and garlic, but sometimes I end the week with a bit I really need to use up. This Vegan Cashew Kale Pesto is perfect for that!
This pesto does use basil, like a traditional recipe, but other than that there are quite a few deviations from the classic sauce. Firstly, cashews replace pine nuts – cashews give you an awesome creamy effect still, but are quite a bit cheaper than pine nuts (and also I tend to have them in the cupboard more often than I have pine nuts). Secondly, there’s no parmesan here. This cashew kale pesto is 100% vegan, thanks to nutritional yeast.
I feel like “nutritional yeast” is possibly one of the grossest-sounding names for a food ever created, but please don’t be put off using it. It’s made out of a “deactivated” (i.e. not alive, no toxic bugs or anything here people!) strain of yeast, often Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Found as deep yellow-coloured flakes or powder, it’s got an umami savoury flavour, kind of like parmesan cheese – which makes it perfect for making this a dairy free, vegan-friendly kale pesto.
How to use Vegan Cashew Kale Pesto
There are so many uses for this pesto:
- Stir it through pasta;
- Spread it on toasted bread (try a layer of hummus and then a little pesto);
- Use it on pizza;
- Top off roasted veggies, buddha bowls and salads with a dollop;
- Pan fry some mushrooms and stir through a little pesto, and use them on top of toast or as a side dish (also works well with cooked butter beans or chickpeas instead of mushrooms);
- If you’re not vegan, use it on top of scrambled eggs, halloumi, chicken or salmon, or make a cheese and pesto toastie.
If you make my Vegan Cashew Kale Pesto, let me know by taking a snap and tagging me on Instagram, you can find me at @nourish_everyday!
Vegan Cashew Kale Pesto
- Food processor or strong blender
- 3-5 kale leaves – I used green curly kale in the pesto pictured
- 1 bunch basil approximately 40-50 grams
- 3/4 cup cashews
- 25 grams nutritional yeast approximately 6 tablespoons
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 lemon
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt to taste
- Prepare the ingredients: wash the kale and basil and remove thick inner stems from both. Peel the garlic and roughly chop.
- Place the kale, basil, cashews and garlic into a food processor/blender and pulse until chunky. Add in the juice of the lemon, nutritional yeast and half a cup of the olive oil and blend again. Add in more of the olive oil (you should have half a cup left), and blend again, until you reach a consistency that you like. You may not need the whole cup of olive oil. Season with a pinch of salt as desired.
- Store the pesto in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge.