South River Miso Vegan Pesto

Several blog friends have asked if I would start posting recipes.

I love this recipe!

I created it last summer, while in the Chef’s Training Program at the Natural Gourmet Institute. Because of the source and quality of ingredients used, it is full of living enzymes, and rich in nutrients.

I am not a vegan, but am sensitive to dairy, so, I use sweet white (unpasteurized) miso, from South River Miso, as the replacement for Parmesan cheese. In fact, if you are not aware, white miso can be used to replace the cheese flavor in almost any dish, dressing, or sauce; i.e. Caesar salad dressing. Unpasteurized miso is a living food, with live enzymes, therefore, please do not heat it above, I believe 105 degrees, or it will destroy these living enzymes.

Instead of pine nuts, I recommend sunflower seeds, but this is a personal preference. Traditional pesto recipes call for pine nuts, but you can use whatever nut or seed you prefer. Be sure, though, that you source them directly from the farmer, raw, and not from a local supermarket. Nuts and seeds labeled raw, even at your local natural foods store, will be pasteurized, as required by the USDA. Pasteurization destroys all living enzymes; therefore, for truly raw nuts and seeds, you must purchase them directly from the farmer.

It is important to soak all nuts and seeds for 6-8 hours, to break down the phytic acid, which is an enzyme inhibitor. The following blog article, explains this concept further:

I also recommend the use of organic, cold, and expeller pressed oil. To be sure the oil is non-GMO, it needs to be organic, unless you know the source of the oil, and you know it is not from a GMO vegetable. It is vital that the oil be cold and expeller pressed to ensure it is free of chemicals such as, hexane, but also to ensure it has the proper balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids. Vegetable oils that have been processed using heat, will have an altered ratio of Omega 3s to 6s, and this is not good for your health; specifically, heart health. You can read more about this here, in a previous blog post about NEFAs, aka, non-esterified fatty acids.

Lastly, I recommend either olive oil, which is traditional for pesto, or hemp oil. My personal preference is hemp oil, because it is so highly nutritious, but hemp oil does have a stronger flavor than olive oil, so choose your oil, with this in mind.

My recipes are not exact. I prepare everything I make, to taste, so, I have provided the closest measurements to what it is I actually use. I recommend following the recipe, ‘as is,’ and then making your own, personal adjustments, to taste.


1 1/2 C organic basil, or arugula

1/3 C organic, cold, expeller pressed olive or hemp oil

1 C pre-soaked organic, raw sunflower seeds

1/4 C + South River Sweet White Miso (to taste)

3-5 cloves of garlic (to taste)

Juice of 1 lemon (add to taste and for consistency)


Soak sunflower seeds, over night, in distilled water (my preference), then, rinse and drain before use in the pesto.

Place all of the above ingredients in a food processor, and blend until you have a chunky paste, but DO NOT add in all of the garlic, or lemon juice. These ingredients need to be added in increments, to be sure you are not over-doing either one.

Once you have blended the ingredients to a chunky paste, be sure to taste it, and begin to adjust your recipe accordingly. I usually add more miso, as I like the salty and cheesy flavor it imparts.

Serve the pesto as a dip, as a spread, or any way you like, keeping in mind, this is a LIVE and LIVING food, full of nutrients and enzymes, so, do not heat it, as in a pasta sauce, or on a pizza. For pastas and pizzas, add at the end.

As always, enjoy, and please free to post your comments and feedback, here.

Thank you!


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