One of the tasty vegetable dips I made for Thanksgiving was a cashew-based basil pesto that I adapted from a carrot top pesto recipe I found earlier this year. I use green leafy carrot tops, which are chalk full of vitamins, minerals and protein, in salads, soups, dressings and all sorts of things. I feel it’s a waste to just pitch them out with the compost. There are whole recipes focused around them.

Cashew Basil Pesto with Carrot Greens
5 cups dip

2 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup Filtered Water, more as needed
Pinch Sea Salt, to taste
2 – 4 Cloves Garlic, peeled, trimmed
2 cups Fresh Italian or Californian Basil, stemmed
2 cups Fresh Carrot Greens, stemmed
1 cup Cashews, soaked, rinsed, dehydrated
1/4 cup Almond or Cashew Butter
OR 1/2 cup Cashews, soaked, rinsed, dehydrated
1/4 – 1/3 cup Nutritional Yeast, optional

In a food processor, combine liquids, salt and garlic. Add in basil and carrot greens and puree. Mix with cashews until they form crumbs. Add the nut butter or more nuts with nutritional yeast. Pour in more water if needed. Puree until smooth.

Since I have an allergy to whey and an intolerance to lactose, I decided to add a bit of cheesy flavor by using nutritional yeast, which is a common ingredient in some dairy free and vegan foods that provides a cheese-like flavor. If you want to use dairy cheese, you can substitute for Romano or Parmesan directly. To me, cashews are rather mild and tend to easily take on flavors of other ingredients. Pine nuts are more pricy, and I did happen to have a bunch of cashews in my cupboards ready to go. This dip is rather thick, due to the sheer amount of nuts in it, which you can reduce it if you like for more of a sauce or dressing consistency (3 to 6 tablespoons) for pasta, vegetables, salad, etc. You can also follow my recipe below and then dilute it as you need to. I used it yesterday as a sandwich spread with turkey leftovers, kale, avocado, heirloom tomato and Dijon mustard on dark rye. It was so scrumptious!