Mighty Cilantro & Basil Pesto

recipes Mar 07, 2024

by Karen Wang, author of Happy Foods - 100 Mood-Boosting Recipes

This delicious, dairy-free pesto is easy to make and a fantastic way to add the power of therapeutic herbs to your diet. Adding it to any dish is also a great way to gently detoxify your body.

The walnuts are soaked before preparing this pesto because soaking nuts and seeds before eating them removes phytic acid and makes them much more digestible. In addition, essential nutrients such as iron, calcium, and zinc from the nuts will be better absorbed.

Mighty Cilantro & Basil Pesto

  • ½ cup (2 oz.) raw walnuts
  • 1 small bunch basil ( 1 oz.), leaves only
1 bunch cilantro (1 oz.), cut off the bottom stems
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic, whole and raw
  • ¼ to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • Sea salt, to taste

  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast (optional)
  1. Place the walnuts in a small bowl and cover with filtered water plus a dash of fresh lemon juice.
Allow the walnuts to soak for 4 – 5 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain the walnuts and place them in a food processor, along with the herbs.
  3. Turn the processor on and puree the ingredients for about 30 seconds.
  4. Then, with the processor on, slowly drizzle in ¼ cup of olive oil and lemon juice.
  5. Add salt and pepper, blend again, and taste for flavor and texture.
  6. Add in a bit more olive oil, salt, black pepper, and lemon juice as needed.

  7. Add in nutritional yeast if desired.  (Adding the optional nutritional yeast will give this pesto a “cheesy” flavor.)

Store your Mighty Pesto for up to one week in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

You can use this pesto on grilled chicken or fish, spread on sandwiches, toss with rice pasta, or add to steamed vegetables. 


Basil ~ activates respiratory immunity and supports the gut microbiome. It has long been considered by the Italians as the herb of love. (When an Italian woman places a pot of basil on her window sill, it means that she is ready to receive her lover.) In India, the indigenous basil ocinum sanctum, “holy basil,” is associated with Vishnu and Krishna.

Cilantro: This delicate-looking herb is a powerful blood cleanser and anti-inflammatory. It is also antimicrobial and antibacterial and has been used by the Greeks, Romans, and Chinese since ancient times to calm digestive issues.



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