Fresh Pesto beats the store bought versions, hands down. It's vibrant colour, and intense aromatic flavour, make it a delicious way to add some summer freshness to a meal.
This easy Vegan version of the Italian classic contains Fresh Basil, Pine Nuts, Nutritional Yeast, Lemon Juice and Garlic.
What You'll Need
- Basil - Fresh Basil is available all year round in supermarkets. And if you have a sunny spot to grow it in, we recommend buying a plant instead of the pre-cut bagged fresh herbs.
- Garlic - The health benefits of Garlic are abundant. It can help lower cholesterol. And it is also a fantastic immunity booster.
- Nutritional Yeast - A favourite among Vegans for giving a cheesy taste to food. It's used here to replace the Parmesan found in traditional Pesto. I've found that most Supermarkets stock this, and it can be found in almost every health food store. It's usually fortified with Vitamin B12 as well, which is a bonus.
- Olive Oil (preferably Extra Virgin) - Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the highest quality Olive Oil, and lends better to foods like Pesto, Dips and Salad Dressings. However, that being said, due to the lengthy process of cold pressing and checking, it makes it more expensive than other oils. So if it's out of your available budget, regular Olive Oil will work just fine.
- Pine Nuts - The nut traditionally used in Pesto. It's wonderfully creamy with a mild taste. These can be fairly expensive but they are well worth the investment. They are also loaded with Vitamin K which has repeatedly been shown in studies to be great for bone strength.
- Sea Salt - The amount of salt in this recipe is kept to a minimum with children in mind. However, you can adjust the amount to be more or less depending on your preferences.
- Food Processor
- Jar or tub for storage
- Measuring Cups or Scales
How to Make it
Steps 1 & 2 - Add all the ingredients to your food processor. Blitz for approximately 15 seconds. Using a spatula, scrape down the pesto from the sides of the food processor, back towards the blades. Then blitz again for a further 15 seconds and check the consistency. If all the basil leaves and pine nuts are blended, then transfer your pesto to a jar for storage. If more blending is needed, scrape the pesto down from the sides again, and blitz for a final 15 seconds.
Substitutions and Variations
- Pine Nuts - Almonds, Walnuts, Hazelnuts or Cashews could all be used in place of Pine Nuts. We recommend trying them out to see which you prefer.
- Nut Free - Instead of Pine Nuts you could use Sunflower or Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas) for a nut-free version (think school lunches etc).
- Basil - You could easily swap half the Basil for Arugula, Spinach or Kale. Equally so you could use 50/50 mix of Parsley and Coriander (Cilantro), in place of the Basil, for something a little different.
Enjoy it With
Pesto is a delicious and versatile way to freshen up a meal. Here are some ideas on how to use it:
- On pizza
- With pasta, as pictured below in our Pesto Penne Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes
- Mixed with mayo or cashew cream as a dip
- Stirred in to mashed potato
- Mixed with cashew cream as a salad dressing
- Added to soups
- In bread dough when making homemade bread
- In sandwiches (works well with Hummus)
Store the Pesto in an airtight container for 5-7 days.
The Pesto will also freeze well. Again, store it in an airtight container, and freeze for up to 3 months. Ensure to fully defrost before using.
Try not to over-blend your Pesto in the food processor. It can start to emulsify the oil which will change the way your Pesto looks and tastes.
Traditional Pesto is not Vegan. This is because it is made with Parmesan - an Italian hard cheese. Some of these cheeses are also not Vegetarian due to the use of animal rennet. However, as you can see from this recipe, it is very simple to make a Vegan friendly alternative.
Other Pesto Ideas
Here are a few of our other delicious Pesto recipes that you might like to try.
Easy Vegan Pesto
- Food Processor
- Jar or tub for storage
- Measuring Cups (or scales)
- 3 cups Fresh Basil
- ⅓ cup Pine Nuts
- 3 tbsps Nutritional Yeast
- 3 Cloves of Garlic
- 3 tbsps Olive Oil
- 2 tbsps Fresh Lemon Juice
- ½ teaspoon Sea Salt
- Add all the ingredients to your food processor.3 cups Fresh Basil, ⅓ cup Pine Nuts, 3 tbsps Nutritional Yeast, 3 Cloves of Garlic, 3 tbsps Olive Oil, 2 tbsps Fresh Lemon Juice, ½ teaspoon Sea Salt
- Blitz for approximately 15 seconds.
- Using a spatula, scrape down the pesto from the sides of the food processor, back towards the blades.
- Blitz again for a further 15 seconds and check the consistency.
- If all the basil leaves and pine nuts are blended then you're finished. If more blending is needed, scrape the pesto down from the sides again, and blitz for a final 15 seconds.
- Once you have your desired consistency, transfer your pesto to a jar for storage.