Simple Vegan Pesto

By • May 29, 2013 60 Comments

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Author Notes: This pesto is so good, you'll never notice that it's dairy-free! Nutritional yeast adds cheesy flavor. Serve this in sandwiches, with pasta, or as a topping for thickly sliced heirloom tomatoes.Gena Hamshaw

Makes 1 generous cup

  • 2 cups tightly packed fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pine nuts
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  1. Place the basil, walnuts or pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor fitted with the S blade. Pulse to combine, until the mixture is coarsely ground.
  2. Turn the motor on and drizzle the olive oil in a thin stream. Add the sea salt, pepper, lemon, and nutritional yeast, and pulse a few more times to combine.

Tags: basil, herbs, nutritional yeast, pesto, spread, Vegan

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Comments (60) Questions (0)

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3 days ago Meredith

Oh my goodness, thank you for this recipe! Like another commenter, I only had almonds. I lightly toasted them on the stove top before adding them to the food processor. And what a difference the nutritional yeast makes! I know how ALL of the basil from my garden will be used!

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10 days ago Sarah Schutz

This was AMAZING! I only had almonds, so I substituted them for the pine nuts, but for people who do not eat dairy like me, this was divine.

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about 1 month ago Whats4Dinner

Making this for the, like, 10th time because it's so friggin' good!!! I make it exactly as is and it's pure perfection!! Dairy eaters eat your heart out :-)

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2 months ago ItalianAmericancook

If you don't want to use a food processor, go back to the old-fashioned, original method used by the cooks in Italy. Invest in a good mortar and pestle, put the basil leaves in the vessel and pound away. You'll see why the popularity of pesto in this country coincided with the introduction of the food processor.

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2 months ago lisa vitantonio

For long-term storage, freeze pesto in plastic ice cube trays, then store the "pesto cubes" in freezer bags in desired quantities. (I have four trays designated for pesto!)

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2 months ago Aslan Balaur

Other than the addition of nutritional yeast, I don't see how this is any different from regular pesto.

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2 months ago Alex

Pesto often contains Parmesan which, in turn, often contains animal rennet. The use of the yeast in this recipe is a replacement for the Parmesan.

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3 months ago Valentino Burattin

The best way to store your pesto and prevent to getting dark add a little olive oil on top. It keep one week on the fridge and it keep very well in the freezer.

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3 months ago Betty Jo McDonald

Heidi I make a chopped version of psto frequently. I squish the garlic cloves into the olive oil and finely chop the basil, mixing in the roasted pine nuts. I have not tried it with the nurtitional yeast. someone mentioned using miso; perhaps you could mix the yeast well with the miso past and then thin it out a little. But a little miso past goes a long way and might overpower other flavors My chopped pesto version doesn't hold well as the basil turns dark.

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3 months ago Heidi Groth

Is there a version that can be made without a food processor?

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3 months ago Heidi Groth

I started dating a vegan 6 months ago and he doesn't cook!!! We have few vegan restaurants on Oahu and he drinks a lot of naked juices and eats mostly white rice and plain pasta with tomato sauce...I want to learn some easy vegan recipes that don't require a food processor. What are some of your favorites? I'm willing to try anything, if it means healthier meals for my guy!

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3 months ago beejay45

I'm a little late to this party, but for those who were wondering what they could sub for the anchovies, how about a bit of miso? That has a similar saltiness and umami quality. Of course, if you're of soy...

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3 months ago beejay45

Uh, that was supposed to be "off soy."

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3 months ago Stephany Pritchard

I'm with Laura on this one -- how long would this stay "good" in the fridge (storing it in a glass container)?

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3 months ago Laura

How long long does this keep and how should it be stored?
Thanks!

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3 months ago Dawn Heather Burrell Ellis

I tried sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts for a less expensive, school friendly version and we loved it. I think the combination of lemon juice and nutritional yeast really makes this recipe! Cheers and thanks

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3 months ago Betty Jo McDonald

Pesto and pasta! My favorite before I became a vegan and I have just been leaving out the cheese. I'll try the nutritional yeast. For Karen--try sliced or chunked tomatoes with it--or roasted red peppers or grilled thinly sliced squash. It just becomes a base for vegetables.

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4 months ago Laina

This is delicious! I toasted the pine nuts in a dry frying pan (so not raw anymore) and served this with a beet & buckwheat gnocchi from "The Vibrant Table" cookbook. AMAZING!

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7 months ago IvorieJenkins

Karen,
This pesto is surprisingly amazing! Make more than you need, freeze and enjoy later!
It's great with angel hair pasta although I chose to pair it with Kelp noodles (a low calorie, raw, seaweed like noodle that is pretty tasteless so goes great with sauces) instead. You can find those at Whole Foods.
Enjoy!

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7 months ago Karen

Would this pesto be good with pasta? I am a beginner with the Vegan lifestyle. Any advice is wanted.

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7 months ago Eve Jane Davies

Pasta and pesto is a staple dish! Pesto is perfect for pasts. Simply make the pesto, cook the pasta, and stir them together! Often I sizzle (never burn!) some sliced garlic and/or mushrooms in some “butter” (Vitalite or Pure, vegan spread, and a pinch of salt) to go with my pasta and pesto. Honestly it’s staple dish if you come home from work and just want a quick dinner. All it takes is boiling some pasta, getting your pesto out of the fridge, lightly cooking the garlic and/or mushroom – onion if you like too – and stirring together. You can add nutritional yeast on the top like you would cheddar or parmesan, and you can drop the coated pasta onto some salad leaves as well. In all, this can be a gormet meal and I have this about once a week!

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8 months ago Jory Mullard

Wow this pesto is GOOD - the nutritional yeast adds a whole other dimension. Thank you!!

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9 months ago Janelle Rafferty

This is a keeper. I used it with salmon burgers and sliced avocado. Perfect for a dairy-free and gluten-free way of eating.