This dairy free, vegan pesto is packed full of fresh basil and delicious flavor. It’s way better than store-bought pesto, and you can make it in minutes!
As the weather starts to warm up, and things begin to bloom outside, I start to think about planting some herbs. The first herb that always pops into my mind is BASIL. I love basil. I love it all year round, but during the spring and summer months I could eat it almost every day, in any dish, in any form.
One of my favorite things to do when I have an abundance of basil in my garden (or when I see a great deal on basil at the store) is to make pesto. I make my own vegan pesto without cheese for two reasons: 1) because I think homemade pesto just tastes better, and 2) because my daughter is allergic to dairy, and therefore can’t tolerate the parmesan cheese in store-bought varieties.
When I first started experimenting with making dairy-free pesto, I expected it to taste like something was missing. But as I continued to tweak and perfect the recipe, I discovered that I actually liked pesto better WITHOUT the parmesan cheese. It’s just lighter and fresher (especially with the addition of fresh lemon juice), and the flavors taste brighter. I still enjoy regular pesto if I have it at a restaurant or someone else’s home, but even if my daughter outgrew her allergy tomorrow, I think I’ll continue to make this vegan pesto for the rest of my days.
Homemade vegan pesto ingredients:
- pine nuts
- lemon juice
- olive oil
- (plus a little salt)
Of course, you can always add cheese to this recipe if you love parmesan in your pesto; or you can do what I do…shave a little bit of fresh parmesan over the top of whatever dish you’re serving with your pesto.
Cooking note #1: Although I’ve tested this recipe multiple times and these are the proportions that worked best for me, you may need to adjust some of your ingredients after you’ve blended it together. Depending on the age/potency of your lemon, garlic, and salt, you may find them a little too strong or a little too weak for your taste. The nice thing about making pesto is that you can keep adding a little of this and a little of that until it comes out completely perfect.
Cooking note #2: Can you make pesto without a food processor? Technically yes. You can chop everything by hand, but the texture will definitely be different, and it will be very time consuming. If you are up for the challenge, this article beautifully explains how to chop pesto by hand like an Italian grandmother. 🙂 It’s actually sort of inspiring, and I might try making it this way one of these days.
Simple Vegan Pesto
This dairy free, vegan pesto recipe is bright, lemony, and full of flavor.
- 3 cups basil moderately packed
- juice of one small-medium lemon
- 1/3 c pine nuts
- 2 large garlic cloves peeled and roughly chopped
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
- In a food processor, combine all ingredients except the olive oil. Pulse until evenly chopped. Slowly add in the olive oil through the top of the processor. Pulse until evenly combined, but not completely smooth.
This dairy-free pesto is delicious on pasta, slathered onto some crusty bread, as a sandwich spread (it goes great with turkey or chicken), in a caprese salad, tossed with vegetables, served with eggs…or just eaten with a spoon. One of my favorite ways to serve it is in this dish: PESTO PASTA WITH CHICKEN, ASPARAGUS, AND PEAS