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Moringa Pesto

What is Moringa
Zoe Adjonyoh
Cook Time:
5 mins
Prep Time:
5 mins

Chef notes

Moringa is a superfood that is breaking ground in the well-being and health-food markets. The mighty moringa oleifera tree is sometimes described as the "Miracle Tree" or drumstick tree. Its small, round leaves can be harvested all year round and are crammed full of nutrition, including protein, calcium, beta-carotene, vitamin C, essential amino acids, potassium and so much more.

It has a very earthy taste, akin to nutty spinach and reminiscent of kelp, spirulina and other similar green superfoods, and therefore is not a great palate-pleaser on its own. So, here is a quick and easy recipe to incorporate moringa into your diet to boost your immune system and give your day a feel-good factor.

Pesto traditionally contains pine nuts and a nice, creamy expensive cheese such as pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano — in Italy, you couldn't call it a pesto without these key ingredients. Even so, this adaptation of the traditional recipe into a spicy, super-healthy, vegan pesto in which the unique nutty spinach flavor of moringa is perfectly balanced may make help to you change your perception about what pesto can be.

Toss this spicy, creamy, powerful pesto with the basil leaves and any cooked pasta of your choice, or thin with extra oil to use as a salad dressing, or smear over toasted sir dough with roasted cherry tomatoes and Parmesan cheese lightly grated on the top.


Suya Spice Mix (makes about 5½ to 7 ounces)
  • ounces finely ground, chopped, roasted cashew and ground peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons ground hot pepper (substitute with cayenne pepper)
  • 4 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 4 tablespoons ginger powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground African calabash nutmeg (or 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground alligator or grains of paradise pepper (replace w/course ground black pepper)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed sea salt
Roasted Cashews
  • 1 pound peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon Suya Spice Mix (recipe above)
  • 1-2 teaspoons groundnut oil
Moringa Pesto
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 green habanero chili, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 10-12 ounces Spiced Cashews (recipe above)
  • 10 ounces wild rocket
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 lemon, zested
  • 1-2 teaspoons moringa powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground alligator pepper (sub with tropical peppercorn)
  • 4 fluid ounces extra virgin olive oil or cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • basil leaves, to garnish


For the Suya Spice Mix:

Mix all the ingredients for the dry spice mix (aside from the nuts, which you must grind separately first before combining) together in a bowl. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place and keep for 6 months (if it lasts that long).

For the Roasted Cashews:


Preheat oven to 350 F.


In a bowl, toss the nuts with the Suya Spice Blend and groundnut oil, and toss to coat.


Spread the nuts on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven until they have slightly roasted, about 20-25 minutes.


Crush the roasted nuts with mortar and pestle or pulse setting on blender until lightly crushed.

For the Moringa Pesto:

Throw everything except half the oil, the sea salt, pepper and basil into a blender and blend to a coarse paste. Add the sea salt and black pepper to the mixture and pulse while slowly adding the remaining oil. Garnish with basil.