Homemade Italian Dressing with Pesto and Hemp Hearts

You know those days when you haven’t even thought about dinner and it’s already 5 o’clock? Those are the nights where we usually have something quick with a salad on the side…because a salad is (almost) always the perfect side dish.

I was in that position yesterday. It was after 5 and I was just considering dinner. Without a weekly meal plan to back me up (because it’s been one of those weeks where I’m a bit behind schedule on everything), I was stuck. Insert the perfect salad here.

I quickly threw together a chicken pot pie and made a side salad. I wanted a fresh and flavorful dressing that would pair well with the comforting flavors of cream of chicken soup inside of the pot pie. In typical fashion with my last-minute meal, I whipped up a quick dressing in my Vitamix Aer container.

Hint #1: I always include these ingredients in my weeknight salad dressings:

  • Balsamic vinegar or glaze
  • Yellow mustard
  • Garlic powder

The mustard in particular is like a secret weapon; the dressing is “missing something” without it! To add extra protein and flavor, I opted for hemp hearts, pesto and freshly grated parmesan cheese. That’s one thing the Vitamix Aer does well: it completely incorporates finely grated cheese or herbs (pesto) into the mixture.

Hint #2: hemp seeds add the perfect degree of nuttiness to any dressing, salad, sauce or smoothie!

The red pepper flakes also add a dash of spice. Personally, I like a generous portion of pepper in this dressing to offer even more kick. Thin to your preference with the olive oil, and make it even lighter by adding additional lemon juice.

Yield: 4

Homemade Italian Dressing with Pesto and Hemp Hearts

Homemade Italian Dressing with Pesto and Hemp Hearts

The flavors of earthy pesto, potent parmesan cheese and a dash of red pepper flakes add a new twist on this classic salad dressing.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes


  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp pesto, any variety
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1½   Tbsp hemp hearts
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra if it needs to be thinned out
  • ¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Add all ingredients to the Vitamix Aer container in the order listed.
  2. Run on variable 10 for 30-60 seconds until all ingredients are incorporated. If necessary to thin out the dressing, pour additional olive oil through the lid while on variable 10.
  3. Serve over a salad of fresh greens. Would also make an excellent dipping sauce for crusty bread!

Nutrition Information:

Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 227Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 275mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 3gProtein: 4g

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