There is so much talk about hempseed being a good vegan protein source, and as far as taste goes, I quite like the taste. A cross between the sunflower seed and pine nut, in it’s shelled variety it is easy to sprinkle on salads, Oatmeal Variations, Mish-Mash, Fruit & Yoghurt as a garnish. But I couldn’t think of anything else interesting to do with it except for a vegan pesto. True to my Italian roots, I like to add fresh basil leaves to my simple Insalata Caprese and my Tofu Sheet Salad Wraps. Hempseed, containing the complete globular protein edestin, is an excellent source of proteins for vegans. You must buy the shelled variety as it is far easier to digest and easier to use in cooking. Shelled hempseed has a similar texture to grated parmesan cheese when added to foods, so I use it as a vegan substitute where you might typically use parmesan.
Do not blend the shelled hempseed in this recipe, fold it in gently after blending the other ingredients, the texture is much nicer when it is slightly nutty and crunchy.
This recipe makes a good pot like the one pictured, for adding to salads, pasta dishes or for dipping chunky crudités in.
Garlic cloves, 3
Fresh basil leaves, 4 handfuls
Shelled hempseed, 4 tbsp (I like the brand Linwoods for quality and value for money best)
Extra-virgin olive oil, lots of drizzles
Lemon, juice and zest, 1/2
Sundried-tomatoes, 2-3 small ones (optional – for slight sweetness)
Sea salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1. Roughly tear the basil leaves and add to a blender (the NutriBullet makes this in less than 1 minute!)
2. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and add the garlic, lemon juice and zest, optional sun-dried tomatoes and other seasoning, and blend until almost but not totally smooth.
3. Pour the mixture into a medium-sized bowl and gently fold in the shelled hempseed, mixing well until the texture is even.
4. Drizzle with more olive oil if you wish and tweak and season according to your tastes. Store in a tightly-slewed container in the refrigerator and consume within 3-4 days.
Add a pinch of chilli flakes if you prefer this pesto to have a bit of a kick.
Personally, I think the taste of extra-virign is the best option for raw salty dishes, like salads, pates and dips. However, I have been experimenting with some other plant-based oils, and I think adding a drizzle of walnut, hazelnut, macadamia and avocado oil also tastes delicious. I would avoid plant-based oils with less flavour like rapeseed and sunflower, because pesto (all varieties of pestos) just tastes better with strong aromatic raw plant-based oils in my opinion.