My absolute go-to vegan pesto recipe with a delicious blend of basil, pistachio, garlic, lemon olive oil and seasonings to make a creamy, rich vegan basil pesto for a variety of dishes
With the extra time at home, I’m in the kitchen more than ever and suddenly find myself working my way through a long list of blog posts and DIY’s I’ve been waiting to get posted. The real mystery though is why it has taken me over five years to post this vegan pesto recipe, which has been featured in so many of my recipes throughout the years.
Learning how to make vegan pesto is something I set my sights on years and years ago. While I’ve experimented over time with different pesto recipes, this vegan basil pesto is the one I return to time and time again. It’s creamy and flavoursome and, with the addition of pistachios, it is wonderfully rich, too.
As I said, I’ve featured this pesto in various recipe across my blog, including for this Zoodles With Home-made pistachio Pesto, or Homemade Pappardelle Floral Pasta & Basil Pesto. But it’s not just the typical ‘pesto pasta’ that this is good for – I also often have pesto spread on toast, as a pizza topping (like for this Butternut squash pizza), to top my soups (like this Creamy Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup Pond) or even as a salad dressing – just to name a few ideas.
Honestly, pesto is incredibly versatile though and can be used for so many amazing uses. Let me know your favourite ways to use it in the comments below.
What makes this vegan pesto recipe so special?
Pesto is made up of only a few ingredients – which is why they have to be chosen well as they all become an essential element within the dish.
Unfortunately, if you’re looking for an oil-free pesto then look away now. This pistachio pesto uses a healthy glug (or three) of extra virgin olive oil. However, I wouldn’t let that put you off. Research is continuing to come out showing us how beneficial to our health that extra virgin olive oil can be – this even includes improving heart health, brain health and more.
Extra virgin olive oil may actually be the healthiest fat that there is (with avocado oil boasting a similar nutritional profile) – you can read more about the benefits of extra virgin olive oil here.
When combined with basil – which is anti-inflammatory, helps detoxify the body, can promote a healthy gut and even benefits your skin; as well as Pistachios – which are a source of healthy fats, contain antioxidants and can improve blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol and even improve gut health, this leads to a delicious dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan basil pesto that has more health benefits than you might think.
Plus, pesto is usually made with parmesan cheese. However, for this vegan recipe, you can use nutritional yeast to give that cheesy flavour. This is optional though – so feel free to omit it, if you wish.
How To Make Vegan Pesto
- pistachios and pine nuts
- basil leaves
- garlic, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- nutritional yeast – it’s optional, but this is what gives the cheesy flavour as parmesan is omitted
Add the pistachios and pine nuts in a food processor/blender and blitz them to a crumb consistency. Next, add the garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper and nutritional yeast (optional) and blitz again to obtain a paste.
I know that different people like different levels of lemon juice and salt. I’ve included amounts for my favourite blend. However, feel free to season with salt, to taste and add in the lemon juice gradually, also to taste. I sometimes even add in a little bit of crushed red chilli flakes for a bit of heat.
Add the basil leaves and olive oil and blitz again. To make it runnier, you can add a bit more olive oil or some fresh water. And that is it – your vegan pesto is ready to use.
If you do want to reduce the amount of olive oil in the recipe, then drizzle it in bit by bit and top up with water, as needed. Just note that this may affect the shelf life of the pesto.
How To Store The Pesto
This fresh pesto can be stored in the fridge for 5-7 days, within an air-tight container.
However, it can also be frozen for up to six months. I love to freeze it in portions within large ice cube trays, so they’re nicely portioned. Which means it’s an excellent recipe for using up any excess basil leaves you have if you’ve got a basil pot in your kitchen.
If you have any questions, leave a comment below Also, I love seeing your recreations so feel free to tag me on Instagram @AlphaFoodie.
Vegan Pesto Sauce
- 1/2 cup pistachio nut raw
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1.5 cups basil leaves
- 1/2 cup olive oil or more if needed runnier
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1.5 tBsp nutritional yeast optional but this is what gives the cheesy flavour
- Add the pistachios and pine nuts in a food processor/blender and blitz them to crumb consistency.
- Add the garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper and nutritional yeast (optional) and blitz again to obtain a paste. *
- Add the basil leaves and olive oil and blitz again. To make it runnier, you can add a bit more olive oil or some fresh water.
- Store in the fridge in an airtight container for 5-7 days. Alternatively, you can freeze it for up to 6 months. It's very convenient to freeze it in ice cube moulds. That way you can take out just 1 or 2 cubes as needed.