Inspired by the spicy Middle Eastern sauce, this whole-food version of zhoug could also be called "Spicy Cilantro Pesto." Just as flavorful and versatile as its authentic counterpart, oil-free zhoug can be spread on sandwiches, tossed with pasta, and used as a dip for everything from veggies to falafel. Vegan and free from gluten, soy, oil, refined sugar.
Prepare the jalapenos: this is where you decide the level of heat! Remove seeds to reduce the overall heat, or include seeds for extra spicy zhoug. You can also reserve some of the seeds then add them after blending if you decide you want it spicier. If removing seeds, do that first, then slice jalapenos.*I used 2 large jalapenos with seeds removed from one.
Combine jalapenos, garlic, and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor. Process until broken down into a sticky crumb texture. Add cilantro, red pepper, cumin, cardamom, ¾ tsp salt, and juice, and process until everything is incorporated and finely chopped.
With the food processor running, drizzle in water 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistancy is reached. Keep in mind, if you altered the amount of nuts/seeds this will affect the amount of water needed. *For a thick pesto consistency I used 1 ¼ cups walnut halves and ¼ cup water.Taste and adjust salt/spice as desired. Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate until ready to use.
Store zhoug sauce in the refrigerator for up to one week. Can also be frozen for longer storage.