Basil and Raw Food

by Susan on August 24, 2010

It has been a very hot, wet summer in the Minneapolis area. Because of this, the growth of everything green has been amazing. Walking out the back door, I feel like I am walking into a jungle. I gave up on the weeds weeks ago.

One of the benefits of all of this rain and heat is that my basil has been extremely prolific. My plants are over 3 feet tall and sprouting leaves everywhere. Thinking about how much I pay for fresh basil in the middle of the winter, I quickly decided that none of this basil is going to waste. This week, I am going to bring you 5 recipes, including a basil pesto that is made in stages so that you can freeze it and pull it out in the middle of the winter!

Today we are going to start with a simple basil oil and a basil cashew-walnut spread. This is one of those great raw food recipes that will convert into a couple of different meals. A simple spread for veggies or flat bread and also a wonderful sauce for a raw “pasta” primaevra, which I will post tomorrow.

Basil Sun-Dried Tomato Spread (pictured)

  • 1 cup Basil Walnut-Cashew spread (see below)
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

Stir sun-dried tomatoes into spread. Use as a dip, or a topping on crackers or veggies.

Basil Oil:

  • 2 cups packed basil
  • 1 cup cold pressed olive oil

1. Place basil and oil in blender.
2. Blend until well combined.
3. Strain.
4. This will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

Basil Walnut-Cashew Spread

  • 2 cups cashews (soaked for 3 hours)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (soaked for 3 hours)
  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons Basil Oil (see above)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • pinch Himalayan sea salt
  • pinch ground pepper

Place all ingredients in food processor. Process until well blended.

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Thomas Howard August 24, 2010 at 4:36 pm

I just found your blog Susan and I love it! These pictures truly capture the beauty of raw food. I look forward to trying these recipes and this basil pesto! Yum. Have a great day.

Thomas Howard
The Vegan Desperado-Seattle


Shannon August 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm

How long would you expect the Basil Walnut-Cashew Spread to last in the fridge?


Susan August 24, 2010 at 5:53 pm

No more than a couple of days.


Jurgita August 25, 2010 at 1:15 am

I love basil! I use it in raw tomato soup, of course, and also– have you tried putting a handful of basil in the green smoothies? It’s wonderful! :-)


Jackie August 25, 2010 at 6:34 am

I am just getting started with the raw lifestyle and I find your blog to be very interesting. I love the photos and recipes. I love basil and cannot wait to try these recipes. Thanks


Brittany August 25, 2010 at 7:28 am

I am realy excited about these basil recipes, I have a big basil plant in my window sill and am gonna need to do something with the yeild, thanks :)


Sherri August 25, 2010 at 9:27 am

I love your blogs. Your blog is one of my favorites!! Thanks for sharing your delicious recipes!!


Kitchenstance August 25, 2010 at 10:01 am

I don’t have access to my own herb garden, but luckily I can get basil at the local farmer’s market for a $1 for a huge bunch this time of year! Both of these recipes are going on my list of things to try. :)


Viv August 25, 2010 at 10:44 am

I noticed the recipe calls for sundried tomatoes…any recipe for drying your own tomatoes to use in this. My tomato plants are about 5 feet tall and yielding more tomatoes than I can eat despite making a weekly gazpacho.



Jinny August 25, 2010 at 11:35 am

I cut my tomatoes length wise, put on dehydrator sheet, with sea salt and some type of Italian seasoning! Dehydrate over night or til fully dried, Yum!

I love basil and my plant is also growing well!


ruby August 25, 2010 at 1:54 pm

do you need to soak the sundried tomatoes before putting into spread?


Catherine August 25, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Thank you for this. I just acquired a large quantity of Basil and have been using it in salads and marinades, but using it in pesto will really help. Thank you!!


Faith Lubitz August 25, 2010 at 2:53 pm

I love basil too! Last summer the $1 bunches at the farmer’s markets got me started and I found it was good in just about everything (not desserts imo) – I am very salt sensitive so am always looking for interesting herbs and spices to flavor things….basil totally does it! This year I discovered Thai basil which is also at the farmer’s markets, and that’s what I use now, it’s got a delicious flavor, a bit different from the Italian basil.
And I would say to Shannon- I make nut pate type mixtures all the time, use them in wraps made with collard leaves. The nut spreads last longer than a couple of days I have found, I would say 5 days would be safe…but of course smell and taste things as they get older to judge. The garlic and the salt are anti-bacterial in the recipe.


Elle ( August 25, 2010 at 5:20 pm

This sounds so yummy! I have to try it, especially since my mom has a huge plant of basil growing.


Dot D. August 26, 2010 at 8:44 am

Can I freeze my basil leaves to use during the fall and winter season?


Susan August 26, 2010 at 11:12 am

Freezing, yes. I will be covering that tomorrow.


polly raichert August 26, 2010 at 10:49 am

You’ve done it again Susan!!!! Perfect timing for my forest of basil out in my backyard:-)
Also, thank you Jinny for easy instructs on the tomatoes. Those are prolific too and I’m having a hard time keeping up. Will get some of those in the dehydrator tonight. Thanks for the nifty tips once again. So glad i checked in today:-)


Stephanie August 26, 2010 at 12:02 pm

How many cups of the spread does it make, approximately?


Susan August 26, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Actually it makes about a little over 2 cups of the basic spread, and a little over a cup of the spread with the sun-dried tomatoes. As for keeping time in the fridge, since this has fresh basil in, I wouldn’t plan on keeping it over 2-3 days. It also oxidizes (changes color) and the taste will not be anywhere nearly a good as the first couple of days.


Faith Lubitz August 26, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Stephanie- I find I can estimate the total amount of a recipe by simply adding the amounts together- so, the basil-walnut spread makes around 2 1/2- 3 cups, and the version given here with sun dried tomatoes would make about 1 1/4 cups. – Faith


whitney August 26, 2010 at 7:08 pm

I don’t have any sundried tomatoes currently so just made the basil walnut-cashew spread. Divine! I used it as a spread on a collard green wrap with tomatoes, cukes, yellow squash, red peppers, and more basil – very yummy – will have it for lunch again tomorrow! Perfect timing on this recipe! I’m going to make the Raw Goji Cacao Energy Bars tomorrow night. You continue to overwhelm me with the beauty of your pics, the relevant info, well designed site, and of course, fabulous food! Thank you!


JoanB August 27, 2010 at 12:40 pm

I was doing some research on the web on the health benefits of Basil and your site came up. Great recipe! I am amazed at the way you have incorporated this healthy herb in a wonderful recipe. I am sure your readers will be glad to know that basil has been found to have great benefits for the heart, the cardiovascular system, and the respiratory system. Published studies have also found it to act on certain strains of bacteria. Thank you for this recipe.


Joan Bernard August 27, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I am transitioning to a Raw food lifestyle. I am happy to follow your site.


Matthew Robbins September 1, 2010 at 8:21 am

Just wondering if you soaked the cashews and walnuts for the spread?


Susan September 1, 2010 at 8:25 am

Yes, they are soaked.


Matthew Robbins September 1, 2010 at 8:50 am

for how long and do they have to be dehydrated after soaking for this recipe?



Susan September 1, 2010 at 8:51 am

You don’t have to dehydrate them after soaking. Just soak them and then drain.


Anna September 19, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Just wondering – could I substitute almonds for walnuts? I set about making this and stupidly have soaked almonds instead of walnuts, but don’t want the almonds to go to waste and I don’t have a dehydrator to dry them out again. Oops!


Susan September 19, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Hmmmm…You could try…


Jackie January 24, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Hi Susan :) I just got your rawmazing dessert cookbook and it looks fantastic . I am excited to start making all the delicious recipes in there . Thank you very much .


Susan January 24, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Thanks for stopping by and saying so! Enjoy it!!


Ronda May 2, 2011 at 11:28 am

Can you substuite another nut into the basil walnut spread instead of cashews


Julie June 24, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I absolutely love this site! I teach in Northern Thailand (about 30 minutes from the Burmese border) and have year-round access to some wonderful fruits, veggies and herbs. Your site is blowing me away. Though I can’t get some of the ingredients, I’m going to experiment and see what I can come up with over here! THANK YOU SO MUCH. Going raw is a step-by-step process for me – but one I’m enjoying. I’ll be stopping by many times a week!


denise August 22, 2011 at 12:08 pm

do i use sundried tomatoes and then soak them? or do i use oil soaked sundried tomatoes.


Susan August 22, 2011 at 2:23 pm

You can use either.


Victoria January 29, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Susan, I love your Raw food sight. I am a newbie entering into the raw food world.
I have reviewed a lot of your recipes and I have a question regarding the soaking of nuts. Is there a preference in container type? plastic or glass? When soaking nuts for 2 hours or more, do you cover the container with a lid or cheesecloth, or do you just leave container coverless?
Thanks in advance for answering my questions; and I can’t wait to get started on some of your recipes.


Susan January 30, 2012 at 12:49 am

I soak in glass, in the refrigerator and usually don’t cover. Cheers!


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