Hemp Pesto Recipe

by Gena on July 28, 2011

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 It’s my hemp pesto, which I originally made for my high raw, vegan manicotti with Andrea.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!!


Print Friendly
Be Sociable, Share!

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Maryea @ Happy Healthy Mama July 28, 2011 at 7:32 pm

What a great idea to use hemp seeds in pesto! I need to give this a try.


Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga July 28, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Just yesterday I relinked all kinds of zucchini pastas of mine. It was amazing to me how many newish readers wrote in that zuke pasta was news to them or that they’ve never tried it. Guess I’ve been hanging out in the blogosphere too long; I assumed everyone uses raw zucchini as noodles :)

Love the hemp-errific post!

Hemp seeds are SO versatile and unlike cashews (or almonds!) no soaking time making them so nice for blending into things.

And I also love hemp towels and pants. Uber soft stuff!

And here in San Diego, I live next to about 17 dispensaries. Hemp ‘o plenty here :)


Ela July 28, 2011 at 7:42 pm

I love hemp pesto! It’s probably one of my favorite pestos ever.

Interesting comments about sleep: I didn’t use to sleep much for years, but ever since I started turning around toward recovery from my lowest weight, I’ve generally needed 8 hours (the first year, I sometimes needed _12_–couldn’t believe it!) Sometimes I get away with 6 or 7, but not for long, and when I’m doing a lot of exercise (as I am now), I need at least 8 and sometimes 9. I often think that it would be wonderful to be able to get up two hours earlier, but it seems like something one really can’t push.

I love how your food is always so beautiful and well-rounded. I’m just coming off a stint of trying to go back to ‘mostly fruit’ (I shared in my last post how/why it hadn’t worked and thank goodness for my husband giving his feedback and thank goodness I could listen to him)–and have also noticed that reading about how ‘food reward’ correlates with obesity has led me to eschew all ‘rewarding’ foods most of the time. I’d love to talk with you about this whole thing sometime, trying to help others with my experience: for now, I’m thinking of instituting a challenge on my blog to make something ‘rewarding’ at least once a week.



Gloria July 28, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Ela, I had the same experience with weight vs. sleep required. I must admit, I love the feeling of being able to sleep in.. Something I was never able to do while underweight. Despite the fact that I follow a healthy diet, I still need my 8+hrs!


Lia July 28, 2011 at 7:47 pm

My brother got ambitious and bought a bag of hemp seeds and didn’t know what to do with them, so they sit and sit and sit. I just moved back home, so now I shall show him the greatness of hemp with your awesome recipes!! thanks!


Eat Hike Sleep Repeat July 28, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Great alternative to the regular pesto! Pine nuts are quite expensive, compared to the BIG buckets of hemp seed that I buy. Time to spiralize some zucchini! Good luck with your Chem and sleep :)


Namaste Gurl July 28, 2011 at 7:55 pm

I love your love for hemp- it’s definitely turned me on to the nutritional powerhouse seeds :)!
You never cease to amaze me with your creative recipes- can’t wait to try this one out! Hemp rocks :)


Victoria July 28, 2011 at 8:00 pm

brilliant idea! I just made pesto the other night and the pine nuts cost me a fortune for a teensy container. Hemp seeds aren’t cheap but they’re less expensive than pine nuts and better for you too. I will definitely be trying this recipe soon. Thanks!


Ricki July 28, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Thanks for this! I’m a lover of hemp seeds as well and have been thinking about doing a hemp pesto (since I’m also growing basil in the back yard this year)–now you’ve done it and I can make yours! Can’t wait to try it out. :)


Pure2raw twins July 28, 2011 at 8:37 pm

love the idea of using hemp seeds, I am not a fan of pine nuts, well actually i hate them and my body does like them either…thank goodness for hemp seeds ;)

and craving your chia house pudding, so good!


VeggieGirl July 28, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Hemp + pesto = perfect fusion.

Rock out the rest of your chem course!!


Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles July 28, 2011 at 8:45 pm

I have so many of your hemp seed recipes bookmarked, but I can never find hemp seeds anywhere. The day I do I’ll be eating like a king!


Karen July 29, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Hi Kaitlyn – Bob’s Red Mill carries them. They have displays in Whole Foods stores and other grocery chains nationwide. If you are outside of the U.S., they may ship to you via their online store. Check out: http://www.bobsredmill.com


cc September 30, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Don’t forget Amazon.com – I now find the most of my organic and raw products there…..like Hempseed (I know -it’s not raw) and that sometimes includes Free Shipping.


Dorly Wick October 18, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Order at iherb.com, ships to most of the world! great prices and fast service.


Faye July 28, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Hi Gena, I know this is all about hemp but in my country hemp is apparently “not for human consumption” so it’s not sold anywhere and I don’t think it can be imported/sent here.

Are there any alternatives to using hemp seed? I LOVE the look of your protein packed cheesy hemp kale chips but I don’t know what I can use instead of the hemp. I do have another fabulous kale recipe that uses only tahini, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, nama shoyu and garlic but I reeeeeally want to try yours! Thanks!


flyer printing July 28, 2011 at 9:27 pm

A totally different pesto experience! Looks really delish.. I usually have pesto on my home made chicken pesto pizza, and this would be my next target for pesto! Thanks!


Shelley @ Mile High Healthy July 28, 2011 at 9:43 pm

Perfect timing, as I just came into a boatload of both fresh basil and hemp seeds! A favorite tip of mine for excess pesto is to freeze it in ice cube trays. Once frozen, the little blocks of pesto can be thrown in a freezer bag and they will keep for a while. When you’re ready for pesto, simply take one or two cubes out and let thaw on counter. Thanks for the recipe, I really will be making it tomorrow!


Lisa @ Healthier You July 28, 2011 at 10:00 pm

I make pesto all the time, but never thought of subbing hempseeds! Great idea..will definitely try it next time.


Ali (urbanfruitbat) July 28, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Uuuuhhhh, that looks amazing! I think the edmame beans are such a neat addition! Crunch and color. Again, I am sending you love and wishing for you to have super human strength to get through your semester! But with all the amazing foods you are putting into your body, combined with your seemingly bottomless pit of will power, I have no doubts you will be amazing.


Ashley July 28, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Oh, how I love hemp. Pretty funny actually…I’m currently chowing down on a HUGE kale salad, doused in a creamy smoked paprika dressing that uses hemp oil. mmmmm


Katie (quick cook rice) July 28, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Genius recipe. I love how this bowl o noodles is more than just noodles and sauce. I definitely prefer pesto sauces with zucchini noodles over raw tomato sauces. You can actually eat this one as a meal to satisfy my massive appetite.

Can’t wait until Chem is over so you can get some rest and we can finally see each other!


Christine (The Raw Project) July 29, 2011 at 12:28 am

Woohoo, I’m a hemp fanatic too! :-) Thanks for all the great recipe reminders! But the pesto recipe sounds divine, I can’t wait to try it this weekend!


Karen @ She Flies With Her Own Wings July 29, 2011 at 3:28 am

Wow! Love all the info about hemp seeds. I’m a chia seed fanatic but haven’t heard too much about hemp…I once tried hemp milk but hated it, I think it was heavily sweetened. I’m definitely going to try out some recipes with hemp after this, thanks!


Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes July 29, 2011 at 4:59 am

I love this pest idea. It looks amazing!


Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes July 29, 2011 at 4:59 am

Obviously I meant pesto* :)


tweal July 29, 2011 at 6:35 am

I adore hemp too! Seeds, oil, soap, fabric – it’s all great. I love using hemp oil in my hummus for a nutty flavour.


Skye July 29, 2011 at 8:58 am

I’m allergic to nuts so I can’t eat traditional pesto. I’ve made it with sunflower seeds but would never have thought to try hemp seeds. Thank you for this yummy-looking recipe!


Amanda @ AmandaRunsNY July 29, 2011 at 9:03 am

I recently bought hemp seeds because of the frequency in which they appear on your blog and I love them so much.

I’ve eated hemp protien for a while and founds its taste to be a little bitter, so I was apprehensive about using the seeds, but I’m so glad I finally caved.

I will be trying this recipe.


Jen July 29, 2011 at 9:58 am

I love hemp seeds! I haven’t gotten as creative with them as you have. They’re mainly a smoothie staple for me. I should definitely try harder to incorporate them into my other meals. I have a whole bag of them sitting in my fridge. I wonder if they would still hold onto some of their nutritional value if baked into something…


Audrey July 29, 2011 at 10:52 am

This looks so delicious! I love pesto and have a lot of fresh basil growing…which means I’m definitely planning on trying this!


melissa (fitnessnyc) July 29, 2011 at 11:00 am

drooling like crazy. why am i too cheap to buy a spiralizer, but spend $20 on dinner (at least) all the time. No logic!


Bianca- Vegan Crunk July 29, 2011 at 11:29 am

I love hemp too. I wish it wasn’t so expensive though. Sigh. I must try your pesto and the dip!!


Kelsey July 29, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Gena, I am SO EXCITED to make this! This is such a GREAT idea. And I actually really love the nutty taste of hemp seeds. And love pesto. I’m slightly bummed now, because I’m going out of town today and won’t be back in my kitchen to try this for a couple weeks haha. BUT I’m also excited to get out of the city for a bit! :) Great recipe lady!


Karen July 29, 2011 at 1:02 pm

You are a genius at inventing recipes that appeal to both my taste buds and quest for nutrient density. It’s these types of super simple recipes using refreshingly few ingredients (!) that I typically already have on hand that tend to remain in my regular rotation. (I still can’t get over your sweet potato hummus…craving my next batch!)

I am so excited to make this pesto tonight. I am hoping you will catch up on those zzz’s this weekend. Have a wonderful one and take good care, Gena!


Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn July 29, 2011 at 3:17 pm

I think basically all of your recipes are in my bookmarks so that I can make them when I get home. I hate being in the booneys. Send me some?!?!?


Hannah (Balancing on Two Feet) July 29, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Looks delicious! I love hemp too and just snagged some samples packets from Whole Foods today.

Good luck with the rest of chemistry. As a former science teacher I can tell you it does get better!


Hippie Butter July 31, 2011 at 1:54 pm

I know what I’m making for dinner tonight.

Thank you for the recipe.


Katie Gibbs August 8, 2011 at 8:19 pm

I’m a huge hemp seed fan! And since I live in Canada I can buy them in bulk from a local farmer! I made this a few nights ago. It was delicious and it didn’t taste ‘hempy’ at all. I only used about 1/4 water though since it was already fairly liquidy. I didn’t add any oil and it was still rich and creamy.


Molly March 26, 2012 at 1:14 pm

I just made this yesterday and it is divine!


Kathy October 9, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Check out the site http://www.eatseed.com for seed products. Great prices and cool site. Thanks for the recipes!


Tish January 17, 2013 at 2:42 am

Have you authored a cook book, by chance? You have a real talent here-your food is delectablnts unique (and pack a nutrition punch)! I am quite a foodie & I’d love buy a recipe book(s) by you.


Amy April 21, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Hi thanks for the recipe! Confused about the water though. I didn’t add it all and the pesto was still really runny. Help?


Micki May 8, 2013 at 7:19 am

Wow! Thanks for all of the great recipes and ideas- Please keep them coming. It’s inspiring and exciting to try new things and stay healthy at the same time.


tracey July 23, 2013 at 8:57 pm

This looks delicious! I went to Cafe Gratitude and had theirs recently so I’m really excited to make it for myself. Thanks so much for sharing!!!


Gena July 24, 2013 at 10:08 am



Milady October 3, 2013 at 1:04 pm

just tried this. came out a treat! and I’m a stupendously bad cook. I didn’t need as much water, but perhaps that was something to do with the basil. wonderful! thanks!


Mallory October 22, 2013 at 7:46 pm

D’oh! Hemp is still illegal here in Australia, even for consumption :-(


Leave a Comment

{ 3 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: