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This last week I went to an acupuncturist for the first time to help with some of my chronic pain issues. Because it’s probably the result of inflammation, she suggested some dietary changes. I bet you can guess where this is going; no dairy and no gluten. Luckily, she said to cut those things out just for a week, then reintroduce them. That way I can see if I have any sensitivities. Having to give up dairy is way harder for me then having to give up gluten. I put cheese on so many things! So I tried to think of some kind of sauce I could make that doesn’t have any dairy. That’s where this Vegan Spinach Parsley Pesto comes into play.
I’m a big-time pasta eater. I usually don’t worry about it being gluten free or having a lot of carbs. It’s something I enjoy, so I’m still going to eat it. In moderation of course. Anyway, I usually make pasta with some kind of cheese sauce, like an alfredo. This week, however, that’s not an option for me. I can’t have marinara because of my Interstitial Cystitis (too acidic), plus I’m not a huge fan of it anyway. Luckily, I LOVE pesto, so it was a natural choice.
What’s in the Vegan Spinach Parsley Pesto?
Normally, my family makes pesto with basil, but as we had an overgrown Italian parsley plant sitting in the kitchen window, I thought I’d take advantage of that. Plus, I love the refreshing flavor of parsley! Adding spinach was a great way to add some substance to the sauce while bringing in some extra leafy greens! I’d have to say spinach is probably my favorite leafy green because it’s full of iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and fiber. It’s also decently high in protein as far as greens go. Walnuts are another must for this recipe, adding heart healthy omega-3’s and a richer flavor! Plus, we have so many walnuts here at the house, it was only logical to use them. And what is pesto without garlic and olive oil? Garlic is probably one of my favorite spices ever. I literally put it on just about anything, so of course I use a ton when I make this recipe. And like any good pesto, a nice olive oil is key.
But what about the parmesan you ask? All good pesto has parmesan, right? Well, not necessarily. I love that super aged cheese as much as the next person, but seeing as I’m trying to avoid dairy at the moment, it wasn’t an option for this recipe. I also love making recipes that are accessible to most diets, so leaving the cheese out allows more people to enjoy. In place of parmesan I used nutritional yeast. I know this is kind of a trendy ingredient these days, but it definitely adds that cheesey mellowness to this recipe, which really balances out the garlic. Nutritional yeast is also a good plant-based source of Vitamin B-12 and protein!
Whether your vegan, vegetarian, or just plain like food, I hope you enjoy this Vegan Spinach Parsley Pesto!