Pesto in autumn I hear you ask? Thanks to my container gardening course last spring (see Container Gardening – 8 Edible Plants To Grown Indoors) I’ve been able to grow basil indoors, and it has been thriving up until now! What else better to do with the last basil leaves of the season than to make a pesto. Pesto pasta is a great simple meal, though protein can be lacking which can lead to blood sugar spikes, followed by the corresponding drops. This Protein Packed Vegan Pesto with Hemp offers more protein than your standard pesto thanks to the hemp hearts. Another twist is the addition of miso in place of parmesan cheese. Not sure how you feel about that? Read on.
“Umami is the known as the fifth taste after bitter, sweet, sour and salty. It can be found in high amounts in parmesan, miso, gravy, mushrooms and tomatoes. The taste is often described as ‘pleasant savoury taste’.”
Miso is a great alternative to parmesan cheese because it also offers that distinct umami taste. Miso is made from fermenting soybeans and various grains, and can enhance the nutritional profile of any dish. Fermented foods contain live-active cultures which have a role in gut health and increasing the bioavailability of certain nutrients (see Health Benefits of Fermented Foods). Other dishes where miso can be substituted as the main umami flavour include miso gravy and various soup broths. Miso is extremely versitle and a great addition to any kitchen. I love adding it to salad dressings such as in this Japanese Salad Dressing with Miso Tahini Dressing.
If basil is out of season, try using spinach or kale (See Kale Pesto on Whole Wheat Pizza for a simple way to use kale in a pesto). Another great variation is adding 1/2 cup of water to this recipe and using it as a salad dressing or as a dressing for a roasted vegetables bowl.
Protein Packed Vegan Pesto with Hemp
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves packed
- 1 tbsp organic white miso*
- 1 tbsp hemp seeds
- 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 clove garlic roughly chopped
- sea salt to taste
- 50 g dry pasta per person
- Combine all pesto ingredients in a food processor and blend to combine. I pureed mine for less than 30 seconds. Taste and season with salt as necessary. Serve on pasta, quinoa or as a sandwich spread.
Make it seasonal: Use blanced spinach or kale in place of basil
Reduce the food miles: Use apple cider vinegar in place of lemon
Make it into a salad dressing: Add 1/2 cup of water before blending
Rachel Dickens, The Conscious Dietitian, is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She graduated with her Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2010 from Griffith University. She strives to provide evidence-based nutrition information with a focus on plant-based nutrition, and share some of her favourite seasonal recipes and sustainable eating tips.