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RECIPE: Oil-free Cream Cheese Pesto

Updated: Jun 19, 2022

A great party starter of layered cashew cream cheese and pesto - perfect for an antipasto platter.

Every party and Christmas celebration needs a great platter and this hits the spot. It makes a large dish so it will feed the masses. And if you have leftovers, stir it through some cooked pasta and you have another easy dish ready to go.

This also makes a really cute dish  – with the colours of the Italian flag (or Christmas). I also shared this dish at the Fair at Square Festival in Melbourne earlier this month and it was loved by the audience. Oil is easily left out of this recipe, as the natural fats from the nuts supply all the richness you need. To ensure this is completely oil-free, use sundried tomatoes that are dry or marinated in vinegar rather than soaked in oil.

Layered Cashew Cream Cheese Pesto


Cashew Cream Cheese

2 cups cashews soaked overnight in water

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes

½ teaspoon fresh garlic or garlic powder

juice of ½ lemon

½ teaspoon salt

cracked black pepper

Cashew Basil Pesto

½ cup cashews

bunch basil (approximately 80g)

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

¼ cup water

½ teaspoon salt

200g sundried tomatoes, chopped.


Cashew Cream Cheese

In a blender, add the soaked cashews, pulse briefly to chop the cashews into smaller pieces.

Add the remaining ingredients and 1/2 cup water and blend until smooth. You may need to add more water, depending on how powerful your blender is. Scrape down the sides as you go.

Pour the cashew cheese into a serving dish that holds a minimum of 2 cups. Refrigerate while you make the pesto.

Cashew Basil Pesto

Into a blender (you may use the same blender without washing it - save water!) add the cashews and blend briefly to break the cashews into smaller pieces. Add the remaining ingredients and blend on high to a desired consistency. Add a little more water if you want a smoother pesto. I like mine quite chunky.

Pour the pesto on top of the cashew cream cheese. Garnish with the chopped sundried tomatoes.

Serve on a platter of crudités, crostini or grissini.

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