This easy basil pesto recipe is the perfect addition to your salads, sandwiches, pasta, and whatever you need a sauce for.
Yes, this vegan basil pesto is nut-free. I used hemp seeds instead of pine nuts. Hemp seeds are one of my absolute favorite ingredients I use daily. I like their rich nutty flavor and they are nutrient-dense. Packed with protein and omega fatty acids. I love adding hemp seeds to smoothies, salads, and noodles.
I have to admit that I use to purchase my basil pesto sauce from the grocery store. Before adopting a wholefood lifestyle, I thought it would take too much time and effort to make pesto. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I meal prep basil pesto and store it in the fridge for quick and easy lunch and dinner add-ons. Click here to learn more about how to store your produce and vegetables to optimize their use.
What is basil pesto made of
Traditional basil pesto is a mixture of fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese.
However, contrary to popular belief you can make pesto out of anything you have in your fridge as long as you follow the guidelines below. Check out my (not so classic) vegan basil pesto recipe down below.
Pesto only has four guidelines
- There must be a green element
- The pesto must have a fat element
- Use some kind of aromatic
- Everything should be evenly balanced (with seasoning)
What is basil pesto used for
This depends largely on your taste buds. I suggest experimenting in the kitchen and trying this pesto recipe on many things you feel would taste great with it. Here are some examples of ways to use vegan basil pesto.
How do you make this basil pesto recipe from scratch
If using a food processor, this recipe comes together in just a few steps. However, don’t worry if you don’t have a food processor. You can make this pesto by hand by chopping your greens & aromatics finely.
- First, add fresh basil, hemp seeds, roasted garlic (feel free to use raw garlic), lemon juice, nutritional yeast, sea salt to a food processor or small blender and pulse/blend on high until the mixture forms a paste.
- Secondly, drizzle in olive oil while the food processor is running and just scrape the sides down as needed. Following that, feel free to add 1 Tbsp of water or lemon juice until you reach your desired consistency. You should have a thick but pourable pesto sauce. (If avoiding oil, substitute the oil with veggie broth or just use all water.)
- Finally, do a taste test and adjust the flavor as needed, add more hemp seeds for more nuttiness, garlic for more garlic flavor, nutritional yeast for that cheesy flavor, lemon juice for that lemony flavor, and sea salt for overall flavor.
- Also, you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Alternatively, pour into ice cube tray, freeze, and store up to 1 month or longer.
Pesto Recipe Recipe Variations
- Go nut-free by using hemp seeds or pumpkin seeds.
- Go dairy-free by using vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast.
- If you have acid reflux and can’t have garlic or onion? Try this pesto with lemongrass or ginger.
- alternatively, try roasting your garlic.
- Oil-free? Sub oil for water.
- Use any nut of your choice. I like walnuts and cashews.
Basil Pesto Recipe (Nut-Free)
- 2 cups fresh basil large stems removed
- 3 tbsp hemp seeds
- 3 large cloves garlic peeled
- 1 juice of ½ lemon
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 3 tbsp olive oil plus more as needed
- 3 tbsp water or more lemon juice plus more as needed
- black pepper and garlic powder (optional) to taste
- Drizzle in olive oil while the food processor is running and just scrape the sides down as needed. Following that, feel free to add 1 Tbsp of water or lemon juice until you reach your desired consistency. You should have a thick but pourable pesto sauce. (If avoiding oil, sub the oil with veggie broth or just use all water.)
- Do a taste test and adjust the flavor as needed, add more hemp seeds for more nuttiness, garlic for more garlic flavor, nutritional yeast for that cheesy flavor, lemon juice for that lemony flavor, and sea salt for overall flavor.