- Food: Vegan Pesto
- Writer: Lizzie Green
- Content-Type: Food Blog
Is there no Parmesan cheese? It’s no problem. This easy vegan pesto recipe is quick and easy to make, and it tastes just like the classic version: bright, nutty, and wonderful.
I usually always make this vegan pesto recipe when I make pesto. Don’t get me wrong: I adore classic basil pesto, but this vegan version is equally delicious.
Fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese are used to make traditional pesto. However, one additional ingredient is required in my recipe: lemon juice.
The sharp flavor of the lemon nicely balances the olive oil’s richness while also elevating the fresh, garlicky, and nutty flavors of the other components.
The pesto has enough depth once it’s added that the Parmesan cheese isn’t necessary, and I usually leave it off. Without the Parmesan cheese, this vegan pesto recipe is a simplified version of my standard pesto recipe.
It’s lighter than traditional pesto, takes only minutes to make, and tastes fantastic. I think you’ll enjoy it whether you’re vegan or not.
Pesto Recipe with a Vegan Twist
My go-to vegan pesto recipe may be found at the bottom of this page. It’s excellent as is, but there are plenty of tasty ways to alter it. Here are some of my personal favorites:
- Change the greens. This vegan pesto recipe is my favorite way to use fresh basil when I have a surplus of it in the summer. However, I enjoy experimenting with different herbs and greens in this dish. Arugula, kale, radish greens, parsley, or spinach can be used in place of half of the basil. You may also use a mix of parsley and cilantro instead of basil, or a 50/50 blend of fresh mint and spinach instead of basil.
- Switch the nuts around. This vegan pesto recipe may be made with almost any nut or seed. Pepitas or pine nuts are my favorites, but almonds, cashews, walnuts, and sunflower seeds also work well.
- Make it more cheesy. Add a tablespoon of nutritional yeast to your vegan pesto sauce if you want it to taste particularly cheesy. Then taste and modify, if necessary, by adding more nutritional yeast.
- Alternatively, increase the umami content. If you don’t have nutritional yeast on hand, 2 tablespoons capers or 2 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes will lend a rich, savory taste to your pesto. Taste and adjust as needed, adding additional capers or sun-dried tomatoes if desired.
How to Use It?
This vegan pesto can be used in a variety of ways. These suggestions are an excellent place to begin:
- To create simple pesto pasta, toss it with cooked fresh or dried pasta.
- Replace the pasta with zucchini noodles, sweet potato noodles, or spaghetti squash for a lighter supper.
- Spread it on a slice of handmade pizza.
- As an appetizer, serve it with fresh bread for dipping.
- Use it as a salad dressing by thinning it with more oil. It’d go well with my Bright Spring Salad!
- Toss it with a variety of grilled or roasted vegetables, such as fennel, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, or tomatoes.
- Make a soup with it, like Carrot Ginger Soup.
- To make a hearty side dish, top it on a grain bowl or mix it with cooked farro, quinoa, or couscous.
|Time to Prepare: 5 minutes
Even without the cheese, this gluten-free, vegan pesto recipe tastes just like classic pesto. It goes well with pasta, pizza, crusty bread, and other dishes. Additional serving suggestions can be seen in the page above.
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts or pepitas
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 small garlic clove
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups basil leaves
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, more for a smoother pesto
- Optional: nutritional yeast, capers, or oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
- Combine the pine nuts, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor and pulse until evenly chopped.
- Pulse in the basil until it’s completely mixed.
- Drizzle in the olive oil while the food processor is running and pulse until blended.
- 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast can be added for an extra cheesy flavor. Add 2 tablespoons capers for a more briny flavor. and 2 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes for added umami To mix, pulse briefly. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, such as adding extra nutritional yeast, capers, or sun-dried tomatoes. Add more olive oil for a smoother pesto.
- Refrigerate any leftover pesto in an airtight jar for up to two days. Freeze the pesto in ice cube trays for longer storage. Then freeze the pesto cubes for up to 2 months in an airtight container or freezer bag.