Hemp Pesto Recipe

Happy Thursday! As of today, I have exactly two weeks of my crazy summer Chem II class remaining. Given that I haven’t slept more than 4-5 hours nightly on a weeknight since class started, I’m excited to realize that I’m more than halfway done. Phew. I’ve never needed a lot of sleep (and I think that good diet improves sleep quality, which means you don’t need quite as much of it), but even my limits are being pushed here!

I don’t think I need to tell you all that I’m a hemp fanatic (no stoner jokes, please—that’s not what I mean!). Hemp is one of the most nutritionally rich foods around. A single serving provides us with:

  • Complete protein (all twenty amino acids, including the nine essential amino acids)
  • Essential fatty acids (EFA’s)
  • An ideal 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 Linoleic Acid and Omega-3 Linolenic Acid
  • Zinc
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium

Impressive, no? Hemp protein powder is an ideal addition to smoothies, or even to my quick version of hemp hummus, and hemp seeds are delicious sprinkled on pasta, salads, soups, or pretty much anything you want. I have a bastion of hemp recipes on my blog, but they include:

My Cheesy Red Pepper and Hemp Dip (personal favorite!!!)


My amazing hemp hummus (pictured here in the KG wrap):




My creamy hemp milk:


And my nutrition powerhouse chia seed power pudding:


A lot of these recipes are more on the sweet side than the savory, so today, I thought I would share a more savory application for the miracle that is hemp. It’s my hemp pesto, which I originally made for my high raw, vegan manicotti with Andrea. It was so tasty that I promptly made it again, and I intend to keep doing that till the stores of fresh summer basil have run dry!


Hemp Pesto (raw, vegan, gluten and soy free)

Yields approx 1 1/3 cup

1 cup shelled hemp seeds
2 tightly packed cups of fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced (2 cloves if you’re a garlic fan)
2/3 cup water
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1) Place hemp seeds in a food processor fitted with the S blade. Grind till they’re powdery.

2) Add basil and pulse to combine well.

3) Add salt, pepper, lemon, garlic, and pulse again.

4) With the motor running, add water in a thin stream, as if you were making a nut pate. Stop once in a while to scrape the bowl. Keep adding water until the pesto is still quite thick, but not pasty.

5) Keep motor running, and finish the pesto by drizzling in the 2 tbsp EVOO. This isn’t necessary, but it’ll give the pesto a more traditional mouthfeel and flavor!

Two nights ago, I served this wonderful pesto over a bowl of zucchini pasta with sundried tomatoes, edamame, and cherry tomatoes from the Georgetown farmer’s market:

Absolutely delicious, high raw dinner!

This all goes to show that a small modification in a traditional recipe can multiply its nutrition in really significant ways. Using pine nuts in pesto is just fine, but hemp seeds truly have more to offer in terms of essential nutrients and protein. Putting them in pesto is an easy and efficient way to offer yourself a few more benefits from your meal, without sacrificing taste or turning something you like into an unpleasant form of “health food.” Enjoy!!


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